Community and Stakeholder Relations

Syncrude aims to earn and maintain public confidence through effective engagement with stakeholders and communities of interest.

Our Performance

Community and Stakeholder Relations Graphic 2

$5.9 million invested

in community projects and initiatives.

Consultation continues on proposed

Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) project.

Community and Stakeholder Relations Graphic 1
Community and Stakeholder Relations Graphic 3

About $1 million donated

towards wildfire response and recovery.

Our Approach

Syncrude aims to earn and maintain public confidence through effective engagement with stakeholders and communities of interest. We seek ideas, input and feedback on our plans in a manner that fosters cooperation and trust. We are committed to ensuring our employees fully understand our goals, plans and performance, and the role they play in our success. We also contribute to projects that promote growth and well-being, and enhance the quality of life where we live and work. Our stakeholder relations policy can be viewed here.

Stakeholders and communities of interest include (in alphabetical order):

  • Academia
  • Employees
  • First Nations – Local
  • Métis Locals
  • Governments – Local, Provincial and Federal
  • Industry Associations
  • Syncrude Project Joint Venture Participants
  • Suppliers and contractors
  • Wood Buffalo residents and other Albertans

Gauging Effectiveness

The effectiveness of our stakeholder relations is stewarded at the executive level and assessed through internal and external audits. In addition, we adhere to the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) Towards Sustainable Mining protocol for Aboriginal and Community Outreach. This includes an internal assessment of our performance each year, and external third-party verification, including stakeholder interviews, of this assessment every three years. Results are published annually on the MAC website. Refer to the Aboriginal Relations chapter for details on the 2016 assessment.

Stakeholder and Community Engagement

Stakeholder Management Cycle

Consultation Activities

During 2016, Syncrude engaged with communities of interest about our proposed Mildred Lake Extension (MLX) project. This included community open houses held across the Wood Buffalo region that offered residents the opportunity to learn more about the project, ask questions and provide input.

In addition, several First Nations and Métis locals participated in meetings about Syncrude’s application to renew our approval under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

Refer to the Aboriginal Relations chapter for further information on both these major consultation activities.

Oil Sands Community Alliance

Through our involvement in the Oil Sands Community Alliance, Syncrude continued in 2016 to support this industry-funded group in its work to manage the socio-economic impacts of oil sands development. OSCA focus areas include Aboriginal Community Relations, Community Well-Being and Infrastructure. Work is stewarded by the OSCA Steering Group, and by committees and task groups that focus on community well-being and Aboriginal community relations, as well as various infrastructure matters. Syncrude employees serve at each level.

Commensurate with its belief that the Wood Buffalo region’s success depends on a competitive oil sands industry, OSCA made representations to the Municipal Council and residents expressing concern about proposed increases to industrial taxation rates during a time of industry downturn. OSCA shared comparative tax information and suggested taxation and spending strategies that will help the region cope with the downturn while ensuring the future success of the region. As well, Syncrude actively participates in a joint industry/municipal steering committee working to achieve taxation levels that meet the needs of all stakeholders.

Tours and Social Media

Towards enhancing transparency about our operations, Syncrude welcomed many tour visitors to our sites in 2016. Our visitors represented government, regulators, First Nations and Métis communities, research and education, business and the investment community, environment and labour, and met with employees from across the company.

We also engaged stakeholders through social media channels, such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and - Instagram, where we share messages, stories, photographs and videos of our operations and community activities.

Political Contributions

Syncrude’s political contributions policy focuses on donations towards fundraising activities or events that are generally open to the public, through ticket purchase or table sponsorship, and fully complies with Alberta law restricting corporate political contributions. Only the Chief Executive Officer can authorize direct donations. In 2016, no donations to political parties were made. Syncrude did purchase tables at the Alberta Political Action Day and Deputy Ministers’ events hosted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.

Corporate Donations

Corporate giving includes donations made under the Community Investment Program, Aboriginal Community Investment Program, sponsorships and gifts-in-kind.

Nearly $6 Million in Community Investment

Syncrude made community donations totaling $5.9 million in 2016. The funds supported our objective of enriching the lives of our employees and the communities where we do business. Donations were directed toward organizations and endeavours in the Wood Buffalo region and Edmonton, focused on education, Aboriginal-related initiatives, healthcare, education, sports and recreation, arts and culture, and safety, health & environment. More about our corporate giving guidelines can be found on our website.

Among the donations announced in 2016 were several designed to assist Fort McMurray recover from the effects of the devastating wildfire in May:

  • United Way of Fort McMurray – $500,000 towards funding for many local groups that provide wildfire-related support services.
  • Wood Buffalo Food Bank – $200,000 to help accommodate heightened demand for its services as a result of the wildfire.
  • Canadian Red Cross – $100,000 to help provide financial relief to affected residents.
  • Edmonton Food Bank – $50,000 to recognize its work in restocking the Wood Buffalo Food Bank after the wildfire.
  • Santa’s Anonymous – $50,000 in response to heightened demand for its services.
  • Some Other Solutions Society for Crisis Prevention – $45,000 to assist in providing information, services and supports to people in crisis or distress.

Other key donations announced during 2016 included:

  • Northern Lights Health Foundation – $2 million for Minimally Invasive Surgery suites and operating room upgrades at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
  • University of Alberta – $300,000 for outreach programming for K-12 students in northern Alberta.
  • Good Neighbours Program – A total of $209,500 to 69 local organizations was donated through this Syncrude initiative to organizations for which employees volunteer.
  • Fort Chipewyan Aquatic Centre – $140,700 toward the Skills Development Program which will help recruit candidates from the community and provide them with training to achieve nationally-recognized lifeguard certification.
  • University of Alberta – $90,000 to extend the USchool Outreach Initiative to students in Fort McKay. The program gives students from small communities a line of sight to careers enabled by a university education.
  • Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo – $57,500 for an affordable housing project in the Waterways neighbourhood of Fort McMurray.
  • Janvier Workforce Strategy Employment and Training Society – $50,000 toward programs that assist individuals in skills training and achieving gainful employment.
  • Alberta Emerald Foundation – $25,000 to host community Emerald Days in Fort McMurray and Camrose. The public events promote excellence in environmental practices.