Council Retreat

Did You Know . . . Town Council held their annual retreat in town this year, allowing convenience, flexibility and promoting cost savings.


Mayor reflects on recent Council Retreat

Members of Town Council and senior administrative staff met for their annual retreat in January and Mayor Roger Morrill considers it to have been a productive event.

“It was very beneficial,” says Roger. “The retreat encouraged open and frank discussion in an atmosphere where we could formulate ideas, think about issues and begin preparing to deal with them in council meetings.”

Participants reviewed the past year accomplishments, budget and business plan, the general direction of the 2011 budget, and there was a special emphasis on ramping up the Athabasca 2011 Centennial activities.

Although the atmosphere was relaxed in general, the business at hand was approached with all due seriousness.

“We engaged in some serious discussion with some very poignant questions asked of each other,” reflects the Mayor.

The retreat was held in town this year, a departure from previous years, and was hosted in the Town office building, allowing convenience and flexibility for the participants in addition to cost savings for the Town.

“I enjoyed having it in the Town Office and I am happy we kept it in town,” says Roger. “It meant that we were here and available to deal with issues that came up.”

A key purpose of a Council Retreat is to discuss the multifaceted business of running the Town. Participants identify and examine a variety of issues and initiatives and set the planning process in motion for some of the priority items. No decisions are made at a retreat. Decision items must go to a regular meeting of Town Council to be dealt with publicly and formally.

A retreat allows for broader discussion and greater flexibility and freedom of expression than can typically be afforded at a regular meeting of Council. In a regular Council meeting, time is more restrictive. Also, councillors must sometimes be cautious about what they say or how they say it as confidentiality issues may arise, or the meaning of a statement may be misinterpreted and repeated out of context in the community.

“Councillors may be more reserved in a regular Council meeting when media or public are present, with everyone evaluating your every word,” Roger admits.

Topics discussed at this year’s retreat ranged from business development to land development, economic development, general town maintenance, specific areas of maintenance like snow removal and playgrounds, paving projects, policing, the public library, Centennial celebration planning and more.

“I can see things developing quickly this year,” says Roger. “I think the next several months will be very interesting.”

Where applicable, discussion items and projects will be brought to regular Council meetings for further discussion, direction and decisions as they become more formalized.

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