April '06 Newsletter

Council broadens communication base

Much goes on behind the scenes in running a municipality and Athabasca Town Council is aiming to keep the community better informed.

In that light, online and print versions of Town Council News will give area residents insight into council and town administration and how they work to keep the wheels of progress rolling in the community.

Town Council News is directed by the Council Communications Committee: Paula Evans, Hugh O’Farrell and chair of the committee, George Hawryluk.

“It is the intention of the Communications Committee to become the communication medium that will enable all residents of the town and area to have full access to information about the members of council, town administration and their respective roles and responsibilities,” states Councillor Hawryluk.

Town Council News and the Town of Athabasca website will develop not only as an information hub to promote Athabasca, but also as a means to provide greater operational transparency of town administrative activity.

“The purpose of the Town Council News is to act as a community-oriented public relations vehicle,” explains Councillor Hawryluk. “It will consist of special, unique and informative news items that otherwise may not be communicated to the public at large.”

Town Council is committed to improved communication and transparency. A few examples of this positive approach include Councillor Mike Gismondi who, from the beginning of his tenure on council, like other councillors, came with a vision for more open government, and Councillor Colleen Powell who is also dedicated to an open, transparent system of municipal government and is interested in ensuring that all voices in the community are heard.

Town Council News will support the process and help keep the community informed.

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Town leadership begins here


Like masters of a great ship, Athabasca Town Council cannot direct the wind, but they do adjust the sails to catch the currents of the community that drive the vessel.

Sitting voluntarily as the leadership team responsible for developing a vision and making executive decisions on behalf of the residents of Athabasca, Town Council must balance government guidelines, town policies and the will of the people as they guide their “ship” forward.

“The job of Town Council is that of a governing, decision-making one,” notes Mayor Richard Verhaeghe. “Councillors make executive decisions under the authority of the Municipal Government Act and keep in line with Town policies and bylaws.”

Decisions are made in the best interests of the Town and only after considering the concerns of residents, the personal perspective of each councillor and the Town business plan explains the Mayor.

“Once the decisions are made, then they are given to the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer to implement. In effect, Town Council acts like a board of directors for a major company. The board of directors makes decisions, then gives those decisions to its Chief Executive Officer to carry out.”

Approaching the midway point of the current three-year term of council, councillors sitting with Mayor Verhaeghe are Lionel Cherniwchan, Paula Evans, Mike Gismondi, George Hawryluk, Hugh O’Farrell and Colleen Powell.

Six councillors and a mayor are elected to office every three years by the popular vote of town residents. Each successful candidate brings to the helm a unique set of experiences, qualities and community connections.

For a brief biographical overview of each member of the council leadership team, go to Council Biographies.

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