April' 13 Newsletter

 

  

Diamond Jubilee Medal for Councillor Cherniwchan

After being locally nominated, Town Councillor Lionel Cherniwchan was humbled to find himself a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

“Others were nominated in the community for various reasons. For me, it was for being a volunteer,” Lionel explains. “It was felt that I had served my community well. I feel I was representative of others who get involved. Many have done so much for this community, but they don’t get the recognition they deserve.”

The Diamond Jubilee Medal was created in 2012 to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. At the same time, this commemorative medal served to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. During the year of celebrations, 60,000 deserving Canadians were recognized.

Lionel was presented with his medal by the Honourable Donald S. Ethell, Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor, during a special ceremony in February, held at McDougall Centre in Calgary.

“It was a humbling experience, to sit there and listen to the stories and resumes of other recipients,” recalls Lionel. “You listen and think, ‘Who am I, from Athabasca?’ I was in rarefied company.”

Lionel first came to Athabasca in 1969, a young man, married to Tannia for six years with one daughter and another to come along later.

“A group of us came at that time and we have grown up together, grown to become who we are today,” he says. “I was the Vice-Principal of Athabasca Elementary School, as it was called at that time. We had 739 students in grades one to six.”

Before he retired, Lionel spent a total of 38 years as an educator, including service in schools in Athabasca and other communities in Athabasca County. Throughout his time living in Athabasca he followed through with many opportunities to volunteer and otherwise get involved in the community, from coaching youth sports, to participation in community groups, politics, municipal government, the hospital board and other boards, and much more.

Responsibilities and commitments would often take Lionel away from home and family. He is grateful for the support and understanding he received from Tannia and their daughters.

“I’ve been honoured and recognized for contributions to my community, but I’m no different than a lot of other people who get involved,” says Lionel. “Every community has people who care and contribute, who make sacrifices and do what needs to be done. Many deserve to be recognized. Other awards are available, but someone has to take the time to write up the nominations. Not enough people take the time.”

Community involvement and volunteerism help to make a community and Lionel sees this as one of the areas where Athabasca shines.

“I look at the future of Athabasca and the future is good,” he declares. “We have a lot of talent in this community.”

In addition to his activity on Town Council and participation in various local committees and groups, Lionel is also a director with the Alberta Senior Citizens’ Housing Association, serving as the Northern Zone Representative, and he has been appointed to the Government of Alberta Minister’s Advisory Committee on Primary Health Care.

For information about Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, visit the Alberta Government Diamond Jubilee website.

 

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Councillor George Hawryluk: Infrastructure a major concern

 

Many factors contribute to the effective running of a town like Athabasca and many people contribute to making it all happen. From a financial perspective, there are significant costs involved and the buck must stop somewhere; the bulk of the weight of responsibility for making financial decisions typically falls on Town Council.

Councillor George Hawryluk notes that every year, Council must weigh the needs of the town against the limitations of the projected operating budget and find a balance that addresses the true priorities. Since the necessary funding does not spring from a bottomless well, tough decisions sometimes have to be made.

One issue that George is especially concerned about and that he believes is in need of priority attention is the state of the town’s aging infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is currently my biggest concern. The existing infrastructure is so old it is creating more problems every day,” he laments. “The water lines, the sewer lines – some are sixty to seventy years old.”

Rather than simply throwing patches on the problem areas, George would like to see the whole works get replaced, but he realizes that making a financial commitment of that magnitude would mean limiting spending in other areas, and that might not sit well with others who may have different priorities.

Another issue currently facing the community is what to do about the aging library and archives building, as well as the adjoining Brick School now that Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is leaving that building.

“People are asking what we are going to do about it, and when,” says George. “Some are becoming impatient. They want changes, now, without understanding what it takes. There is a cost to everything and the Town only has so much money in the operating budget.”

Since funds are limited, all projects and programs must be properly researched and the priorities identified and confirmed. Fiscal responsibility is the bottom line and the whole process takes time.

Perhaps aggravating the situation to some degree is the issue of some discussions taking place behind closed doors and the perception that not all of the details from those discussions, or the full reasoning behind the decisions, is being passed along to the public.

George believes that since municipal tax dollars go towards funding programs and projects, town residents have a right to be more thoroughly informed. While he acknowledges that in some cases there are rules, regulations and bylaws preventing full disclosure of the details, he believes it is time to review those rules to see where greater transparency can be encouraged and to update them to better respect the interests and expectations of residents and taxpayers.

“Some of our bylaws are archaic and counterproductive,” says George. “As Town Council, we need to revisit the bylaws and make changes to meet the current cultural, social and economic demands we are facing.

“I would like to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency. For example, why does a builder need permits for everything? Why can’t there be one permit to cover it all?”

These are the sorts of things that need to be researched and addressed. It all takes time and there are costs involved every step of the way. The aim would be to arrive at a process where, when major programs or projects are being considered, the public is given greater opportunity to help decide the priorities.

“We need to lay it out so they know the needs, the issues and the limitations,” George explains. “Show them that this is what needs to be done, this is what we have to work with; now choose what you want us to do.”

Ultimately, he points to transparency, responsibility and accessibility as being the key ideals.

Praise for the Outside Services team

While he has this opportunity, George wants to offer public praise for the Town Outside Services staff.

“Given the experience we’ve had with snow and temperatures this winter, these guys are doing a fantastic job for a town this size and with the hills we have,” he declares. “They work so hard – we couldn’t replace them with a better group of people.”

 

 

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Ten Years of Recycling and Residential Waste Collection in Athabasca

There is always room for improvement, but Athabasca residents are doing a good job of supporting local recycling efforts and the result is a reduction of materials going to the landfill.

Rob Smith, manager of Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission, notes that both the automated trash cart program and the Blue Box recycling program are working well in Athabasca.

“The more people we can get recycling, the better it is for our systems and the more we can reduce what goes to the landfill,” says Rob.

A recent report to Town Council included an informative fact sheet that provided a 10 year timeline of waste collection and recycling events in Athabasca along with a number of related facts and statistics.

For example, the average annual tonnage of waste delivered to the landfill over the past 10 years (2003 to present) was 396 metric tonnes per year.

The Blue Box program has diverted over 877mt (44 semi loads) of recyclable household materials from the landfill over the last 10 years. That is a 22 per cent diversion rate.

The estimated usage of the Blue Box program in Athabasca is 65-75 per cent participation.

When the Blue Box program switched to weekly pick up in 2006 from bi-weekly, a significant increase in usage was noted; users began putting more recyclables out each week than they had been in two weeks. This was attributed to household limits of storage as well as the memory factor; it was easier to remember to do it each week than trying to remember which week was recycling week.


10 Year Timeline of Events (2003 to Present)

2003 – 2006                Mixed back-alley/front curb waste collection with no bag limits

2003 – 2006                Bi-weekly Blue Box recycle collection

2003 – 2008                Bi-weekly compost collection (May to October each year)

2006 – 2010                Three-bag household waste limit (No grass and leaves)

2006 – Present             Weekly Blue Box recycle collection

2007 – Present             All back alley moved to front curb collection points

2011 – Present             Automated 64-gallon waste cart collection

Rob noted that, after the introduction of the automated cart collection program, the tonnage being picked up increased in 2011 by about 25 per cent over previous annual averages, and in 2012 by about 20 per cent (over those same averages). The most noticeable reasons for the increases were users who went against the rules and put grass clippings in the carts with their garbage, and users who clearly did not recycle and who continually overfilled their carts.

He believes that more public awareness of the purpose and benefits of recycling will help to further improve the recycling results in Athabasca. Also, that new or improved programs for the separate collection and composting of grass and leaves would help to reduce the tonnage being picked up by the automated cart system, thereby helping to prevent the related costs to the Town, and therefore to residents, from increasing.

“The more diversion we can do, the better it is for the environment and the less cost there is for everybody,” says Rob.

Visit the Athabasca Regional Waste website for information about services provided throughout the region.

Too Good to Waste: Making Conservation a Priority

Did you know that at least 80 per cent of material currently sent to municipal landfills throughout Alberta can be recovered?

To learn about related opportunities and strategies, read Too Good to Waste, Alberta’s road map for waste reduction and management.

 

 

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