Community mourns the passing of Guy Boutilier

Guy Boutilier, an accomplished politician, businessman, educator, husband, and father, has died from cancer at age 65.

Boutilier’s lasting legacy is etched on the very fabric of the community, as family, friends, and loved ones mourn his passing.

Boutilier entered politics in 1986, becoming an Alderman of what was then called the city of Fort McMurray. After two terms, he rose to the office of Mayor, becoming the youngest mayor in Fort McMurray’s history.

Boutilier spearheaded the amalgamation of rural and urban areas and was instrumental in the creation of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which we know today. The move rescued Fort McMurray from mounting debt and crushing taxes, and brought a regional approach to land use, services, and culture.

From municipal politics, Boutilier’s career took a natural progression to Provincial Politics. He served as Minister of Environment, Municipal Affairs, and Aboriginal Relations under Premier Ralph Klein and later as an MLA and member of the Progressive Conservative party caucus under Premier Ed Stelmach.

Known for never turning his back on the needs of the citizens he served, Boutilier battled Premier Stelmach over the funding of a long-term care facility for seniors in the region. The move cost Boutilier his membership in the P.C. party.

Guy eventually joined the Wild Rose Party before being defeated by Mike Allen in the 2012 provincial election. Guy then returned to municipal politics for a short time before choosing to spend time with his family.

More than just a politician, Guy was known for his infectious energy and affable personality. Whether attending tea at the Golden Years Society or spending time in the community, Boutilier left an impression on those who met him.

“As a little girl, Guy lived in my neighbourhood,” said Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray – Cold Lake, Laila Goodridge.

“I remember fondly a group of us young kids decided to make piles of leaves by one of the big polar trees in the green space across from his house.”

“He must have watched us making piles and jumping into the leaves. He came over with a big rake to help us with the fun.”

Former Municipal Councilor and friend Sheldon Germain remembers chiding Guy about wearing a Harvard University Jacket. “How can you tell if someone has gone to Harvard?” Germain would ask.

“They tell you, and they wear the jacket.”

Germain notes that leadership takes courage and conviction, and sometimes it is uncomfortable. “He always pushed through the discomfort to do what was right for the people,” said Germain. “I really appreciated him, and enjoyed debating with him immensely.”

Sandy Bowman, Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, offered his thoughts on the news of the passing of a community champion.

“My thoughts, deepest sympathies, and condolences are firmly with Gail, Mark, and the family and friends of Guy Boutilier,” wrote Bowman in an official statement.

“Guy leaves behind a remarkable life of public service and an important legacy in Fort McMurray, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and the Province of Alberta.”

Boutilier was also known for his tireless support of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. He was part of bringing the RBC Cup to the region in 2000 and was elated to see our local McMurray Oil Barons winning the event.

Boutilier served the people of our region through a time of change as the oil sands transitioned from a risky experiment to a global commodity. He led our community through booms, busts, confidence, and uncertainty to become the place enjoy today.

He is part of the Golden Age of community leaders whose indelible marks are left, not just on the names of our streets or proudly displayed on the fronts of schools, but in the hearts, minds, and culture of this place we call home.

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