December '11 Newsletter

Town Council News

December 2011                                                                                                                          Volume 6, Issue 6


 Season’s Greetings from the Mayor

Athabasca is a community with so much potential. As we approach the New Year, as Mayor, I very much look forward to the challenges, changes, improvements and possibilities that lay ahead for our town.

We have projects to complete, projects to begin and projects yet to be determined. The New Year promises to be an exciting time for all.

My wife Dianne and I wish to extend holiday greetings to town residents and everyone in the community. With the season of giving, receiving and sharing upon us, we offer sincere wishes for a joyfully memorable Christmas filled with all that is held dear, and may you be equally blessed with love, joy and peace throughout 2012.

Roger Morrill

Mayor, Town of Athabasca

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Mayor Morrill reflects on past year

Town of Athabasca staff and family participate in the "100 Floats for 100 Years" parade this past July 
helping to celebrate the Town's Centennial

Another year has quickly flown by and it has been an eventful one for the residents of Athabasca and the surrounding community. Mayor Roger Morrill reflects back on a few of the highlights of 2011, the Town’s Centennial year.

In January, a committee was struck to lead the process of reviewing and advancing a selection of specific projects and initiatives. Some examples being, giving consideration to building a new library, initiating research into providing assisted living accommodations in Athabasca, and the formation of the Dr. Josephine Brown Scholarship.

“Already in progress at that time was restoration work on the Athabasca Landing Train Station,” notes Roger. “The Riverfront Design project was being tendered, and word from Alberta Transportation was that the new highway interchange and bridge across the Tawatinaw River would start this year.”

The Town has also been working with Athabasca County on projects of mutual interest. One example is the drafting and completion of the Intermunicipal Development Plan.

“Another initiative, advanced by both Town and County councils earlier this year, is the consideration of a ‘heavy loads safety route’ bypass,” Roger explains. “A provincial study is presently underway.”

Through the year, Town Council became aware of the need to improve general communication with residents and began looking at ways to do this. In response, says Roger, “Council hosted several informal meetings and one organized public meeting to facilitate open communication and Council accessibility.”

Unexpected Humanitarians

In May, the character and compassion of the Athabasca community was clearly demonstrated when residents of Slave Lake began arriving here after being forced to flee their own burning town. Roger is proud of the way Athabasca responded with open arms.

“It was the largest displacement of residents in the history of our province as fire hit Slave Lake and Athabasca welcomed those in need that came our way. On day one, over 200 community volunteers were on site, with many more on a list, if needed,” recalls the Mayor.

Athabasca’s Emergency Response Plan was called into action to deal with the unexpected situation.

“In the beginning days, the Athabasca Regional Multiplex alone had sleepovers exceeding 1,000 a night,” says Roger. “Emergency plans were effectively put into place and worked well by all accounts.”

Credit goes to many for the success of the relief effort.

“The many community organizations, clubs, groups, businesses, institutions and individuals that make this community what it is every day of the year exemplified care and consideration to our neighbours in need,” asserts Roger.

Notable Events

A wide variety of events occurred in Athabasca this year including some that attracted a few notable visitors and participants.

Premier Ed Stelmach made several appearances prior to his retirement as the Premier of Alberta, including participation in the grand opening of the new Pleasant Valley Lodge in May and the official opening of Athabasca University’s Academic and Research Centre in July.

The May visit corresponded with a Premier’s Dinner, hosted in the Multiplex and well attended by many community members, visiting guests and dignitaries. “Premier Stelmach was joined by over 20 MLA’s and ministers,” notes Roger.

Premier Stelmach and other government representatives were also present to help launch the Town’s Homecoming ceremonies the weekend of July 29-31.

“The Premier, Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell, Member of Parliament Brian Jean and MLA Jeff Johnson joined us in commencing our Centennial Homecoming Weekend,” says Roger.

The community received some additional good news in July regarding a particular funding request.

“With assistance from our MLA Jeff Johnson, our community received a substantial Community Facility Enhancement grant ($600,000) from the Province for our Multiplex Multi-Sports Park project. Construction is now well underway.”

MLA Johnson was sworn in as Minister of Infrastructure on October 12, 2011, and also serves as Political Minister–Northern Alberta.

Centennial Acknowledgement

Roger appreciates and acknowledges the many people, groups and organizations that helped plan, organize, celebrate and showcase the community in some way during the Town’s Centennial year.

Numerous local groups held events that promoted community spirit and brought the community together in various ways. The Athabasca Legion Picnic at the Riverfront, August 13, being one example.

The Centennial Homecoming Weekend, July 29-31, and the Town of Athabasca Birthday Party, Sept. 17, demanded significant volunteer commitment in planning and execution and each were well attended and well received.

Some groups hosted events that brought many new visitors to town, like the Rotary International District 5370 Conference in June, attracting around 350 members from across Western Canada; the Lion’s International Cavalcade for Diabetes, also in June; and the Alberta Vehicle Extrication Association’s Extrication Challenge, Sept. 10,11, and Fireman’s Ball, Sept. 11, hosted by the Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department.

The Athabasca Fire Department is also celebrating their centennial this year, as is the Athabasca Healthcare Centre, notes Roger. “Both have provided 100 years of dedicated service to our community.”

The Town’s Centennial year is coming to a close, but the new year is filled with much promise and potential and serving as the Mayor of Athabasca, Roger is looking forward to the possibilities and challenges that lay ahead for the community.

Centennial volunteer submits report

The Town of Athabasca Centennial year is drawing to a close. Those who contributed so much time and energy to the various events and celebrations can rest assured that many in the community have appreciated their effort and commitment.

Joan Veenstra, town resident, avid volunteer and the main organizing force behind the Athabasca Birthday Party events held in September the past three years submitted a final report to Council on this year’s Sept. 17 event.

This article will highlight a few of Joan’s comments and recommendations from the report. Readers interested in a more detailed account of the September event are welcome to read the article posted in the October edition of the Town Newsletter, available online at this location: Athabasca Birthday Party

In her report to Council, Joan stated that more than 500 people signed up for the community portrait taken on Sept. 17, and that the birthday party was well received by all who attended.

“There were lots of events on the Town Common and around town that day, but by far the most popular was Ty Hart’s music, and the kites that were supplied by Sharan Khurana,” said Joan.

“The recipients of the plaques, the Dupilka, Sale, Pearson, Olson and Richards family farms, and the Athabasca Fire Department and the Hospital were most appreciative of the gesture and all commented that they were proud to be recognized for their role in our town’s success.”

Joan has ordered 500 (5 x 7) postcards and 25 (8 x 10) prints of the community portrait. The 5 x 7 postcards will be available free and the larger prints on a cost recovery basis. She will leave the list of those in the portrait together with an 8 x 10 picture along with the photos from the other two years with the Athabasca Archives.

“Other years, we have made one big print to display at Buy-Low Foods, but given the limited budget left to me I have opted not to do this,” noted Joan.

Community Development recommendation

In her report, Joan expressed the need for a dedicated Community Development person to take up the slack for volunteers who do not have the time or expertise for the level of commitment or responsibility required.

“We need someone to vision and help coordinate start-ups, workshops and community action, source partnerships and liaisons, and bring plans to completion; funding applications require special skills,” Joan explained.

She noted the high cost of advertising and promotion and that when dealing with community events, a qualified person should be making the advertising decisions. Also, when multiple events are occurring, there is value in having one person acting as central coordinator for the mutual benefit of all.

“What we need is a one stop, knowledge-based individual who can work with all of us,” said Joan.

She closed her report with a thank you to Council.

“Thank you for the opportunity to share in one of Athabasca’s most important events and for recognizing this with your generous support. I am proud to call Athabasca home.”

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