People in Fort McMurray are getting their chance to voice complaints about the roads and other services they need to Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach.
On Friday, Stelmach was making his first campaign sweep through the region in advance of the March 3 Alberta election.
Dennis Lewis summed up what he sees as the government's attitude towards the region Thursday as he watched his two sons play hockey at a local arena.
"It appears to me [it's] take, take, take what we can get, and tomorrow really doesn't matter," Lewis told CBC News.
Lewis, who moved to Fort McMurray 20 years ago, wants the government to make sure his sons will benefit from the massive oilsands development in the area, and get the roads, schools, housing and other services they need.
"They're really not happy. There's a lack of affordable housing, there's a lack of health care. Waiting lists are horrendous at the hospital," said senior Glenna Morris, listing some of the complaints from people in the community.
Highway 63 big issue
Then there is Highway 63, the two-lane accident-plagued stretch of road that links Fort McMurray to the south.
'It appears to me [it's] take, take, take what we can get, and tomorrow really doesn't matter.' —Dennis Lewis, Fort McMurray resident
"We built four oilsands plants in the last ten years at a cost of five billion plus each and the Province of Alberta hasn't built a twin highway in the same amount of time. What's the problem," asked bus driver Gus Giantis.
Another city resident, Donna Chmielewski, agreed. "We've got kids that are travelling down that highway all the time. We don't actually even drive in the winter. We fly all the time if we have to go: the road's just too bad."
In 2007, the Alberta government announced $400 million over three years for water treatment facilities, affordable funding and programs to attract and retain health-care workers in the Fort McMurray area. The government has also promised to twin the highway, at a cost of $820 million, but the only work underway right now is 16 kilometres of roadway just south of the city.
Tories remain popular
But despite the feeling by many that the government should be doing more, many people still said they think the Tories are the best choice to look after the region's interests.
'We built four oilsands plants in the last ten years at a cost of five billion plus each and the province of Alberta hasn't built a twin highway in the same amount of time. What's the problem?"' —Gus Giantis, bus driver
The Tory candidate, Guy Boutilier, is very popular former mayor of Fort McMurray, and a long-time Conservative cabinet minister who has represented the riding of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo for a decade.
Resident Blaine Huolt said he was impressed by Stelmach's move to take a bigger slice of oil and gas royalties.
"I think that was a good thing that Stelmach did. He's got the guts to bring that up now … and I think the province needs their fair share."
When the election was called, the Conservatives had 60 seats in the legislature, the Liberals had 16, the NDP had four and the Wildrose Alliance had one. There was one Independent and one vacant seat.