Hoteliers respond to Fort Mac wildfire

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — The web ad for Super 8 Fort McMurray, Alberta's oil sands community of 80,000 has a red banner that states,

Sketch of former Microtel Fort McMurray. The hotel was under construction when the wildfire hit.

Sketch of former Microtel Fort McMurray. The hotel was under construction when the wildfire hit.

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — The web ad for Super 8 Fort McMurray, Alberta's oil sands community of 80,000 has a red banner that states, “Permanently Closed.” 

The Super 8, the Microtel owned by the same company, and the Chateau Nova near the airport are among the buildings that burned to the ground in the enormous wildfire that forced citizens to evacuate in early May. 

Travelodge Canada has announced a $10,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross to assist
aid efforts for the victims and evacuees of the Fort McMurray and area fire. 

Trevor Hagel, Travelodge

Trevor Hagel, Travelodge

is a terrible tragedy for the residents of Fort McMurray and surrounding
communities, and with thousands of people displaced, Travelodge Canada wants to
support the aid efforts,” said Trevor Hagel, vice-president of operations for
Travelodge Canada.  “On behalf of our 100
hotel owners across Canada, our hearts and thoughts are with these individuals
and families who have been forced to leave their homes.”

addition to the cash donation, Travelodge Canada has franchised-owned hotel
properties in Edmonton, Leduc, Red Deer and Calgary that are offering various
discounted/compassion rates.  Evacuated residents
can contact each location individually to inquire about room availability. 

The Hampton Inn & Homewood Suites Calgary Airport North property is donating $5 from every guestroom to the Canadian Red Cross as part of the property’s continued efforts to assist those affected by the ongoing forest fires in Fort McMurray. 

The Hampton Inn Calgary North Airport is also offering complimentary breakfast until 10 a.m. every day for all evacuees who need a break from the long drive as well as any community members who would like to support the Red Cross fundraising efforts while having a bite to eat. 

Best Western Hotels & Resorts announced on the weekend that its charity arm, Best Western for a Better World, will be donating to the Canadian Red Cross to assist those affected by the devastating wildfire in Fort McMurray.

In addition to the donation to the Canadian Red Cross, Canadian members of Best Western Rewards, the company’s loyalty program, can also support the cause by donating their BWR points which Best Western will then convert to cash. Those funds will also be given to the Canadian Red Cross, providing even more resources to aid in the relief effort.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those that have been impacted by this devastating fire,” said President and CEO David Kong. “We are committed to supporting our Canadian hoteliers, employees, guests and their families as they recover from this tragic event.”

Eric Watson, chief operating officer for MasterBUILT Hotels Ltd., the company that owns the destroyed Microtel and Super 8, is devastated by what is happening in Fort McMurray, “Our company was built in Alberta and that is where our heart is. If you are in need of a place to stay, please call us.”

He told the Calgary Metro News that both the Super 8 and the Microtel development in Fort McMurray’s Beacon Hill neighbourhood, burned to a crisp on Wednesday, May 4. The Super 8 had just done a $3 million renovation. And it was the second fire for the Microtel, which was under construction. Workers had just started reframing following a fire last winter.

Eric Watson, MasterBUILT

Eric Watson, MasterBUILT

The Bonnyville and Whitecourt Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham are providing 80 rooms at no charge to those displaced by the Fort McMurray forest fires. Each room will be made available for up to seven days and will include a breakfast and light dinner, Watson said. 

Those hotels are not alone. @RMWoodBuffalo provides a list of places to stay in Edmonton, 435 km south of Fort Mac. The list includes more than 40 Edmonton hotels offering “compassionate rates, which “vary by hotel and are available on an 'asked for' basis.”

Sandman Hotel Group announced Thursday that proceeds from the 50/50 draw at Thursday's Stanley Cup playoff game between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues will be going to the Fort McMurray fire victims.

“It's so astoundingly beautiful to see an entire country come together to help a small community in need, tweeted Kamil Karamali, CBC TV and radio reporter based in Vancouver. “As someone who immigrated here, I can tell you it's not standard practice everywhere. Something special about Canadians.”

Watson echoed that sentiment in the Calgary Metro News story. “Just like the 2013 Floods … I think all Albertans will come together on this one for people in Fort McMurray,” he said. “We’ll get through this.”

Ron Joyce and his family have made a personal donation of $2 million to the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Fires appeal. Joyce, former owner of Tim Hortons and a resident of Calgary, AB said, “It is part of our Canadian culture to look after one another during times of need. This tragedy really exemplifies the solidarity of our nation and we are privileged to be in the position to assist in the relief efforts.”

Steven Joyce, CEO of Fox Harb’r Resort in Wallace, NS said, “The tragedy in Fort McMurray reaches far beyond the geographical area of the fire itself. On some level, every Canadian has been moved by these events.”

Here is more information about services for evacuees:

• A reception centre has been set up at the Northlands Expo Centre. There is space for up to 1,300 people and Edmonton’s Emergency Support Response Team, Red Cross and medical staff are at hand to help evacuees, who will have access to cots, washrooms, food and beverages. The Edmonton Humane Society is also at hand to help evacuees with pets.

• An open-source Facebook page has been set up to help evacuees with information and resources. People have been using the page to assist evacuees with any items and shelter they might be able to offer.

• Civeo, workers' camp operator, is making spaces available at its lodges both north and south of Fort McMurray. North of Fort McMurray, Civeo has rooms available at its largest facility, Wapasu Lodge and recommends that people consider this Civeo location first.  If the need dictates, Civeo is ready to open its Henday Lodge.  South of Fort McMurray, Civeo has limited rooms available at two of its lodges at Marianna and Conklin. Last night, Civeo accommodated approximately 3,000 Fort McMurray residents including children and pets at its facilities providing rooms, bottled water and food.  Civeo’s Athabasca, Beaver River and McClelland Lake lodges are full.  The list of lodge locations:     

• Airbnb has activated their Disaster Response Tool, waiving all fees so those with residences available to evacuees can post their listing for free. Hosts offering their spaces through Airbnb will still have the protections guaranteed by the service for regular short-term vacation rentals.

• The Calgary Airport Authority is making an initial $25,000 donation to the Canadian Red Cross to support their emergency appeal to help those affected by wildfires in the Fort McMurray area.

Nova hotel near the airport burned to the ground.

Nova hotel near the airport burned to the ground.