Economic Development Officer

Did You Know . . . The Athabasca region recently welcomed a new Economic Development Officer into the fold. David V. Pattison began his duties in mid-June.


David V. Pattison now serves the Athabasca region as the new Economic Development Officer.

Quality of life important to new Economic Development Officer

The Athabasca region recently welcomed a new Economic Development Officer into the fold.

David V. Pattison, who began his duties in mid-June, is enthusiastic about the potential for sustainability that the region has to offer and he notes that economic development serves a broader purpose than many people may realize.

“Typically, so much of economic development is seen as business attraction, but there is so much in this region that focuses on and supports retention,” David explains. “Local Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC) activities are focused on encouraging that retention and attracting businesses that would complement what we already have.”

The officially stated mission of the CEDC is to “broaden the economic base of the region and strengthen the community base through community and business development. All projects will be done to the highest standards and for the benefit and strength of the whole region.”

While business development is certainly a key factor in the mission statement, David places great emphasis on the “community” aspect of the economic development process.

“I have a real interest in the quality of life in rural communities,” he says. “Business owners and employees live in the community. They use the facilities, go to the parks and make use of other amenities–that’s how a community develops.”

In his role as Economic Development Officer, David takes into careful consideration the needs and interests of all three of the partnering municipalities of the CEDC: Town of Athabasca, Village of Boyle and Athabasca County.

“Our aim is to enhance the quality of life for businesses and residents through the support of business development in all three municipalities,” David affirms.

Developing relationships within the communities is important and it is equally valuable to build relationships with municipalities beyond the borders of Athabasca County.

“The key thing is building partnerships with business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and with major educational institutions like Athabasca University and Northern Lakes College,” notes David, “and also with neighbouring municipalities, like the Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17 and Lac La Biche.”

The new economic development officer was not unfamiliar with Athabasca prior to his CEDC appointment. In fact, his knowledge of the region helped influence his decision to accept the position.

“I am interested in communities that are sustainable and was attracted by the fact that the Athabasca region does involve more than one municipality,” says David. “And I enjoy golfing and fishing. I’ve fished in this area for many years.”

His educational background includes a Masters degree in Environmental Design, Urban and Regional Planning, and he has worked in the private sector as well, developing housing projects in Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray. His interest in the planning of quality of life into small towns includes an emphasis on such elements as amenities, parks and crime prevention through environmental design.

“There is an economic basis for sustainability in the Town of Athabasca, the Village of Boyle and throughout Athabasca County,” David points out. “There are 500 to 800 businesses in the region, including home-based and farm-based businesses.”

He recently met with mayors, councillors and chief administrative officers for the three partnering municipalities to lay out a community economic development work plan for the coming year.

“There are decisions to be made. There are options available in this region that many communities would find enviable.”

History and culture must come into play when pursuing economic development, he advises.

“There is real history in this region, with riverboats, barges, the cage that used to transport people over the river, crossing the river on the ice in winter. That’s important to consider.”

One other demographic not to be overlooked is a transient population that is becoming more common in the region.

“They’re sort of a shadow population, here for four days, off for three,” David explains, referring to non-local workers who come here for jobs but live elsewhere. “They’re looking for quality of life as well. Some bring their families, but most don’t.”

David is settling in well to his role as Economic Development Officer and says he is receiving great support from the partnering municipalities and staff members. The process of economic development planning can be challenging, but he enjoys the focus on building relationships and partnerships.

“It’s just a matter of looking at what the priorities are,” he says. “You can do many things poorly or a few things well.”

The Community Economic Development Committee meets the third Thursday at 7 p.m. The meeting location alternates between the municipalities. Meetings are open to the public.

David can be contacted by telephone at 780-675-1168, or by email at

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