History and Evolution

WBEA has a long history in the Wood Buffalo region and was established even prior to the unprecedented growth of the oil sands industry.

  • In 1985, Fort McKay First Nation expressed concern about the environment.
  • In response, government and industry formed an Air Quality Task Force which described issues, established priorities and recommended ongoing dialogue and a consensus-based approach to air quality concerns.
  • Air Quality Task Force became the Regional Air Quality Coordinating Committee (RAQCC). RAQCC prioritized regional air quality concerns and coordinated a program to manage air quality in the region.
  • In 1993, the Government of Alberta developed a regional approach to air quality monitoring under the umbrella of the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA).
  • In 1997, RAQCC was reformed into the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA).
  • CASA formally endorsed the WBEA monitoring program in 1996.
  • In 1997, the WBEA assumed responsibility for ownership and operation of a regional consolidated air quality monitoring network in the Wood Buffalo region.
  • Capital costs were originally provided by Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada Limited. Alberta Environment provided equipment on a long-term basis, as well as expertise and in-kind contributions.
  • In 1999, WBEA implemented Terrestrial Environmental Effects Monitoring (TEEM), an ecological monitoring program.
  • In 2005, WBEA implemented the ongoing Human Exposure Monitoring Program (HEMP).
  • Membership, funding and in-kind contributions continue to rise with the increase in industrial activity.
  • Environment Canada releases the Integrated Monitoring Plan for the Oil Sands in 2011.
  • In 2012, the Governments of Canada and Alberta introduced the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM). The Plan builds on a foundation of monitoring that is already in place, and is intended to enhance existing monitoring activities.
  • In 2014, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (aemera.org) is established to monitor, evaluate and report on key air, water, land and biodiversity indicators to better inform decision-making by policy makers, regulators, planners, researchers, communities, industries and the public.
  • WBEA is already meeting many of requirements set out in JOSM, and continues to work collaboratively with other jurisdictions and stakeholders to move JOSM and the new Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency move forward.