August '11 Newsletter

Town Council News

August 2011                                                                                                                          Volume 6, Issue 4

(l-r) Mayor Roger Morrill and Councillors Lionel Cherniwchan, Christine Nelson and George Hawryluk dress up in period style for the Athabasca Centennial Parade, July 2.  The event featured more than 100 parade entries and appreciative crowds.

Centennial recipe book unexpected hit, enduring legacy

Created to help highlight the local flavour of the community, the Centennial recipe book has turned out to be quite a popular memento of the Athabasca 2011 Centennial celebrations and may be a collector’s item worth snapping up while copies are available.

More than simply a collection of favourite family recipes, the cookbook, titled Flavours of Athabasca, also includes a collection of local family histories and experiences as well as some informative commentary on the general history of the community.

Athabasca Centennial Committee member Shirley Dubie began compiling the recipes and histories, and together with committee member Heather Betts, worked to complete the books in time for this year’s Centennial celebrations. The books sell for $10 each with all profits going to local charities and select community projects.

Local shops have displayed the recipe books for sale, and local organizations like the Athabasca Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Athabasca have provided significant support in helping to distribute the books far and wide.

“Sales of Flavours of Athabasca have exceeded our expectations,” notes Shirley. “Over 2,000 copies have been printed.”

The Lions Club purchased 400 copies and residents of Slake Lake who lost their homes were each given a copy. The Rotary Club has given copies to their exchange students.

“Copies have gone to Germany,” declares Heather. “We have international distribution; that really surprised us.”

There will not likely be another printing of Flavours of Athabasca, so residents who have been thinking about picking up a copy should do so before they are all gone. Copies are available at the Town of Athabasca office, the Visitors Information Centre (Old Train Station), Great Canadian Dollar Store and Whispering Hills Fabric and Craft Supplies.

Volunteers help make July Homecoming Weekend a great event for all

  Crowds line up early for a free Homecoming Weekend breakfast on July 30, cooked and served by a host of volunteers and workers including members of the Athabasca area Hutterian Brethren.

From the Athabasca Riverfront, to the Seniors Centre, Nancy Appleby Theatre, Athabasca Regional Multiplex and other venues around town, residents and visitors were kept busy with something for everybody during the Athabasca Homecoming Weekend, July 29-31. Credit is due to the many volunteers who contributed their time, talent and effort to help make it happen.

Young and old alike enjoyed a variety of activities, displays, working skills demonstrations and entertainment. And while the children had fun with face painting and games, the petting zoo proved to be a main attraction, featuring a wide assortment of furry and feathered creatures.

Sara Graling, Centennial Committee assistant, estimates that as many as 75 volunteers or more helped pull the Homecoming Weekend together.

“All of the working skills demonstrations were lead by local volunteers,” notes Sara, “plus we had set-up and take-down volunteers, breakfast help, general roaming volunteers, info tent volunteers...”

Although the Homecoming Weekend was a focal point of celebration and activity, behind-the-scenes volunteer commitment and planning for this year’s events began quite some time earlier.

“For the last two years, members of the community and area have given their time and resources to organize the Centennial celebrations,” Sara explains. “The Homecoming Weekend required a great deal of detailed coordination... and some muscle, too.”

Volunteer support came in many forms and from a good cross-section of the community.

“I was so happy to see young people being involved in the volunteer spirit; learning the importance of giving to your community from an early age builds character and builds communities,” says Sara. “The only way a big event can be a success is with the support of many volunteers, and each volunteer played an important role this year. Thank you!”

She acknowledges also the countless volunteers who were involved with any of the community groups and organizations that planned special events to help mark Athabasca’s 2011 Centennial.

“It was wonderful to learn more about local groups, our history and the people that make this a great place to live and raise a family. I am very proud of Athabasca!”

Athabasca 2011 Centennial celebrations will continue with a number of specially planned events yet to come.

  Members of the Wilkins family from Saskatoon, (l-r) Dad Jeremy, Raina and Jason, enjoy close contact with some of the petting zoo creatures featured on July 30 during Athabasca's Homecoming Weekend.  Later in the day, members of Town Council and Town Admin serve up a free BBQ dinner to a hungry crowd of Centennial celebrants.

Attend Athabasca’s 100th Birthday Party, Sept. 17

Don’t miss the Athabasca Centennial Birthday Party, scheduled for Sept. 17 on the Town Common, featuring free hot dogs and birthday cake from 12:00 p.m., a group community portrait at 2:00 p.m., and a variety of activities, attractions and entertainment.

Liz Deisting, a popular local cake decorator for more than 50 years, has been contracted to make a special commemorative birthday cake for the event. Liz designed and made the Athabasca 75th Anniversary cake.

Ty Hart and Friends will provide musical entertainment with a country-rock edge.

Children’s games and activities are being planned, subject to the availability of volunteers.

Crooked Creek Conservancy together with Science Outreach–Athabasca and the Tawatinaw Watershed Stewards will be conducting 30-minute natural history hikes and riverfront nature tours beginning at 1 p.m. The tours are suitable for all ages.

The Athabasca Native Friendship Centre will have aboriginal displays and a teepee, and will be showing and selling locally made aboriginal handicrafts.

Sharan Khurana and friends will demonstrate kite building techniques and will give anyone interested an opportunity to build and fly their own Centennial kite.

The Union Hotel will offer narrated tours of the historic building and will invite tavern visitors to taste Athabasca Dick beer.

The annual Taste of Athabasca event will be held in the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, beginning at 4:30 p.m., featuring a dazzling array of flavours to celebrate the multicultural heritage and cuisine of community members. The Athabasca Garden Club will serve pies made from local fruit.

Wanted: Farmers, Families, Businesses and People celebrating 100 years

On behalf of the Athabasca Centennial Committee, member Joan Veenstra is searching for farmers, businesses and people who are celebrating their Centennial this year.

“We would like to recognize them at the September 17 birthday party,” Joan explains. “If you know of anyone who is 100 years old in 2011, or farms or businesses that have been in the same family for the past 100 years, please contact me.”

Joan’s phone number is 780-675-2840 and her email address is

“There will be a special presentation on the Town Common for those who we are able to identify,” she says.

Upcoming Events

More events are on the horizon to help celebrate Athabasca’s Centennial year.

Early in September plan to attend the 2011 Harvest Gold Fiddlers Weekend, Sept. 2 – 4, at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex.

Mark your calendar for the Alberta Regional Extrication Challenge, hosted by the Athabasca Fire Department, Sept. 8 – 11.

On Sept. 10, take in an open house at the Athabasca Healthcare Centre, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., celebrating the facility’s 100thyear of service in the community.

Bring family and friends to the Town of Athabasca Centennial Birthday Party, Sept. 17.

Then, on Sept. 18, drop in to the Cotillion at the Athabasca Senior’s Centre where you will enjoy music and entertainment from 1911. Contact Mary Olson for tickets: 780-675-5516

For more Centennial news and information, visit the Athabasca Centennial 2011 website.

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A crew works to install new sewer line components on the east hill in Athabasca, on the site formerly occupied by the playground, now to be relocated.

Highway 55/813 Interchange project set to begin

After a number of years in the planning, the anticipated Alberta Transportation Highway 55/813 Interchange project is about to begin in Athabasca.

Residents will have noticed increased activity near the location of the proposed highway reconstruction site as utilities crews have been working to relocate water and sewer services, Telus telecommunication lines and Fortis power lines.

Alberta Transportation is expected to begin actual construction very soon and is expected to phase the project in over three years. Once construction begins, a bypass road will be built around where the new bridge will go then crews will excavate for the new bridge and will construct the bridge.

Town Chief Administrative Officer Doug Topinka notes that this is not a Town project, so the Town has no control over it, but the Town is working with Alberta Transportation and they have been cooperative.

“When construction begins, we hope the inconvenience to residents and drivers will be minimal,” says Doug. “We ask that members of the community be patient throughout the process.”

The purpose of the project is to upgrade the aging intersection and improve traffic flow.

“Once complete, we anticipate having a highway interchange that will better accommodate the needs of all types of vehicle traffic passing through our community,” says Doug.

Read more about this Alberta Transportation project in the October edition of the Town Newsletter: $14.2 million highway project underway in Athabasca.

(photo left) Looking eastward from downtown Athabasca with the site of the anticipated Highway 55/813 Interchange Project in the background, a crane moves sewer line components off of a trailer. (photo right) Sewer line components being installed near the Athabasca riverfront, with the children's spray park in the background.

Read more about this Alberta Transportation project in the October edition of the Town Newsletter:  $14.2 million highway project underway in Athabasca

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Funding comes through for Multiplex sports park

The sports park project, proposed by the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, is now moving forward after receiving a grant from the provincial government and a commitment of matching funds from community stakeholders.

The exact features of the park will not be determined until tenders are received and the respective development costs are more accurately known. Planners hope to see the park include three new baseball diamonds, for the bantam, peewee and mosquito divisions, two regulation-sized soccer fields with irrigation, and one medium-sized practice field. The three new ball diamonds will be in addition to the two existing slo-pitch diamonds. A proposed trail system would connect the sports fields with the Multiplex and the Athabasca University and town trail systems.

Regional Recreation Services manager Rob Balay notes that in order to better fit the funding allotment, the project has been downgraded from an earlier proposal that included an outdoor ice rink.

“Originally, it was a $1.5 million project,” says Rob. “Now, it’s down to $1.2 million.”

News of a $600,000 provincial grant came on July 29 when Premier Ed Stelmach was in Athabasca during the Town’s 2011 Centennial celebrations. With the grant being subject to the receipt of matching funds, the Multiplex Society has received a pledge of $250,000 from the Athabasca Soccer Association, plus a commitment of $175,000 each from the Town of Athabasca and Athabasca County.

“What we will be able to include with that funding will depend on when we go to tender,” notes Rob. “Whatever the results are, that’s what we will go with.”

Tenders are expected to go out by September 15 and if all goes as planned, Rob hopes to see the initial groundwork for the new multi-sports park start at the beginning of October. The work will continue in the spring and will include installation of the irrigation system, fences, scoreboards, bleachers and either sod or grass seeding, depending on what the budget allows.

The purpose for expanding the recreational facilities of the Athabasca Regional Multiplex is to better serve the needs and interests of user groups and area residents. Since opening the doors early in 2008, the Multiplex has hosted large and small sporting, business and social events, some locally focused and some regional or provincial in scope.

Designed as a multi-purpose community facility, the Multiplex currently features a full size indoor ice rink, curling rink, field house, fitness centre, meeting rooms and lounge. 

The facility gained national attention in May, 2011, when residents of the wildfire-ravaged town of Slave Lake, Alberta, were abruptly forced out of their community, seeking refuge in evacuation centres in other communities including Athabasca. For more than two weeks, local organizations, community leaders, Multiplex staff and volunteers all helped to keep the Multiplex running 24 hours a day to attend to the needs of the Slave Lake evacuees.

Visit the Athabasca Regional Multiplex website for facility and program information, hours of operation, and information and links to other local facilities including Athabasca Landing Pool, Alice B. Donohue Library, Athabasca Archives and the Nancy Appleby Theatre.

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