Fort McMurray, population: 72,944 (2012 municipal census), is an urban service area in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Alberta. Formerly a city, it became an urban service area when it amalgamated with Improvement District No. 143 on April 1, 1995 to create the Municipality of Wood Buffalo. As a result, Fort McMurray was no longer officially designated a city.
Fort McMurray is 435 kilometres northeast of Edmonton on Highway 63, about 60 kilometres west of the Saskatchewan border, nestled in the boreal forest at the confluence of the Athabasca River and the Clearwater River. Fort McMurray is the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Fort McMurray is considered the heart of one of Alberta's (and Canada's) hubs of oil production, located near the Athabasca Oil Sands. Besides the oil sands, the economy also relies on natural gas and oil pipelines, forestry and tourism. Oil sand companies include Syncrude, Suncor Energy, CNRL, Shell, and Nexen.
Fort McMurray's growth is characteristic of a boomtown. Housing prices and rents are far higher in Fort McMurray than one would expect in such a remote area. In 2006, Fort McMurray had the highest prices in Alberta. The Alberta government has promised to release more Crown land for residential construction, particularly in Timberlea on the north side.