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Guy Boutilier, 1st mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, dies at 65

Many are commemorating Guy Boutilier, a former politician who served for decades in municipal and provincial politics in Alberta, after he died Friday morning.

Boutilier, 65, had a notable political career, which included being elected as the first mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, after Fort McMurray, Alta., and Improvement District No. 143 amalgamated in 1995.

He left behind “a remarkable life of public service and an important legacy” in the region and the province of Alberta, said Mayor Sandy Bowman in a publicly released statement Friday.

The mayor expressed condolences to Boutilier’s family and said the municipality is lowering its flags to half-mast in honour of him.

Boutilier, born in Glace Bay, N.S., on the east coast of Cape Breton, moved to Alberta after university. He was first elected to Fort McMurray city council in 1986 at the age of 27, and was elected as mayor in 1992 — becoming the youngest mayor in the city’s history.

He was then elected as the first mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

In 1997, Boutilier was elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA, eventually serving as a cabinet minister under the Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach governments.

But in 2009, Stelmach kicked Boutilier out of the PC caucus for criticizing delays in constructing a long-term care facility in his riding — which was finally built in 2021.

He served in the legislative assembly as an independent for a year, then joined the Wildrose Party — formerly the Wildrose Alliance. At the time, current Premier Danielle Smith was the party’s leader.

Smith called Boutilier “a great Albertan” and a friend Friday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. She also offered condolences to Boutilier’s family.

“He will be deeply missed,” Smith said.

Boutilier returned to municipal politics after losing in the 2012 provincial election, but he later resigned from council in 2015 after allegations surfaced that his permanent address wasn’t within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

In 2021, former mayor Don Scott awarded Boutilier the Key to the Region.

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