February '07 Newsletter

Town Council News

February 2007                                                                        Volume 2, Issue 1



Athabasca Regional Multiplex taking shape

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Groundwork for the new Athabasca Regional Multiplex has progressed to the point where the structure is now starting to rise up and take shape.

The first aboveground portions of the building to begin the transition from drawing board to reality are the field house and skating rink components, where contractors have begun erecting the structural steel.

“Once that is up, we’ll be on to the curling rink,” says Garry Bunnah, Jen-Col Construction Ltd. site superintendent.

Work on the concrete block wall is scheduled to begin around mid-February, he explains. “The wall cladding will start soon after the wall is up, then the roof.”

At that point, the building will have the appearance of a complete structure, but there is plenty of construction yet to be done on the inside.

“The steel will be up, then there’s lots of inside work to do, once the thaw starts coming out,” notes Bunnah.

A portable ground thaw system is being used to speed up the thawing process where the washrooms, change rooms and majority of under-slab plumbing is to be. “We have to have that slab in as a firm base so we can set up the scaffolding to pour the second-floor structural slab. It is an elevated structural concrete slab, meaning it is self-supporting.”

Bunnah expects work on the second-floor slab to be carried out in April. The process would take longer, if not for the portable thawing system.

“We’ll be burning some gas,” he admits, “but it’s all to keep on schedule. Otherwise, we’d let Mother Nature do it.”

The anticipated completion date for the Multiplex is still the end of November. “That has not changed. We are still targeting that date,” Bunnah assures.


Multiplex fundraising progressing well


Multiplex supporters from Athabasca and around the region continue to come through in a big way, pushing the total amount of funds raised or committed to the project ever-closer to the goal of just over $17 million.

“The fundraising goal for the Multiplex, including the riverfront component, is $17,281,000,” notes Rob Balay, fundraising chair for the project. “Right now, funds raised and committed total about $16,516,000 with a few more donations coming in yet to be announced.”

Some donations have been publicized through local media while others have not at the request of the donors.

Fundraising efforts are ongoing as various groups and organizations conduct events as part of their commitment to the Multiplex project. Rob encourages the community to support the groups and the fundraising events they sponsor.

For more background on the project, some of its supporters and how the facility will benefit the region click here.

Council approves riverfront concept

Detailed design next up on drawing board


Revitalization plans for the Town of Athabasca’s historic riverfront continue to advance. Town Council approved the conceptual design for riverfront development at their regular council meeting on Jan. 16.

While there may still be a few hoops to jump through, such as getting approval from Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation for the proposed truck pullout, Council’s Jan. 16 decision opens the way to proceed to the next significant step: developing a detailed riverfront design.

“Now that they’ve adopted the conceptual design, we can have a detailed set of plans prepared,” confirms outside services superintendent Rob Balay, noting that some changes could occur between the current conceptual design as presented and the final detailed plans.

Once the Town has detailed plans in hand, cost quotes for the various components of the design will be sought, then presented to Council for consideration before final approval. The goal is to have all the necessary information available prior to the Town’s budgeting process in April.


Parks, playground, heritage and more


As it sits now, the conceptual design calls for a variety of components that will appeal to a wide cross-section of the community.

“The plans include a skateboard park, a splash park, a playground, the footprint for a building, like an information or interpretive centre, and parking lots,” Rob explains. “And there are huge green areas and walkways.”

Additionally, heritage interpretive displays, Tee-pees and Native plantings are included in the conceptual design, plus a view deck overlooking the river.

Feasibility of the various components will be determined after the detailed design and cost quotes are received. Once approved, riverfront construction will begin and will be built in phases to be decided at that time.


Riverfront high on list of recommended heritage resources


In May of last year, the Athabasca riverfront scored high as a significant cultural landscape, receiving particular recognition in the Town of Athabasca Municipal Heritage Inventory report.

Co-funded by the Town and the Government of Alberta Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP), the heritage inventory report identified 25 of the most significant heritage resources in Athabasca. Further to those 25 historic buildings, the report recommended Athabasca’s riverfront as a significant cultural landscape that should also be considered for a possible listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

In December, MHPP coordinator Scott Barrett attended the annual general meeting of the Athabasca Heritage Society as guest speaker. His presentation included, in part, an overview of the MHPP and the significance of Athabasca’s participation.

“The Town of Athabasca has really been a leader in the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program,” stated Barrett.

In his message, he highlighted the fact that heritage resources and cultural landscapes exist across the country and across the province. They are to be cherished, protected and preserved, he said, the importance of which needs to be emphasized. Athabasca’s leadership in this regard is a model to be emulated.

Following his presentation, for his support of Athabasca’s heritage efforts, Barrett received an award of appreciation from the Athabasca Heritage Society, presented by AHS member and town councillor, Mike Gismondi.

The Athabasca Heritage Society is a contributing partner in the heritage component of the proposed riverfront development plans.


To view the conceptual design click here.


Athabasca’s centerpiece of classic architecturealign=

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The "Old Brick School"


Day or night, from various strategic vantage- points in town, Athabasca Public School can be seen standing tall and proud, a magnificent symbol of the optimism and expectation felt by many in the early days of the community.

Locally referred to as “the Old Brick School,” Athabasca Public School is centrally located at the T-intersection of 47 A Avenue and 48 Street. A striking building in the daytime, highlighted with spotlights at night, the former school is a centerpiece of classic brick architecture. Considered a “castle” by some young residents, the structure certainly strikes a stately presence, particularly when viewed from the lookout point behind Pleasant Valley Lodge (5210 – 47 Ave.).

Built in 1913 and originally designed with four classrooms, Athabasca Public School was used continuously for all grades until the 1950’s. Renovations, conversions and room additions were incorporated over the years to accommodate the expanding population of the area.

In 1954, Senior and Junior High students were relocated to the newly completed Edwin Parr Composite School. In 1966, the remaining 325 elementary students were moved to the new elementary school, located on the west hill in Athabasca and now called Landing Trail Intermediate School.


Indiana limestone and Calgary red brick


The Town of Athabasca 2006 Municipal Heritage Inventory report identifies Athabasca Public School as one of the 25 most significant historic resources in Athabasca. The report describes the building as “a massive two and one-half story brick and stone structure with a hip roof and a central entrance in a projecting formal frontispiece topped with a crenellated tower.” The design is sometimes known as Collegiate Gothic Design.

The report goes on to highlight such distinct features as the use of Calgary red brick and Indiana limestone, the rusticated limestone plinth, the vertical expression of the brick pilasters and engaged tower, and the formal cap of the false dormers and projecting crenellated tower.

“The school exhibits the most imposing and distinctive architecture of any building in Athabasca,” states the report.

One other highly notable character-defining element of the building is a dated cornerstone that reads, "Laid by Harvey F. Cull, Chairman School Board, Athabasca. 26.9.13.”


Classic building still serves a central focus


Although traditional academic classes have not been held in the building for many years, Athabasca Public School remains a valuable contributing facility in the community, having housed or hosted a variety of agencies, groups and activities over the years.

At present, the “Old Brick School” is home to Athabasca and Area Family and Community Support Services (FCSS). A few examples of services provided by FCSS are family support, women’s outreach support, community programming and family/school liaison.

The basement of the building is home to the Athabasca Pottery Club where members and guests regularly practice their crafty skills.


Heritage inventory project funded by Town and province


The Municipal Heritage Inventory project was completed in May 2006. The main objectives of the project were to:

- complete a review of potentially significant heritage sites within the Town of Athabasca

- describe Athabasca’s major historical themes and trends

- document, research and conduct fieldwork to develop the Athabasca Heritage Inventory

- evaluate selected sites in accordance with the Municipal Heritage Resources Management Program

- prepare statements of significance for the selected resources


The project received funding from the Government of Alberta Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) and the Town of Athabasca to prepare an inventory of Athabasca’s heritage resources that would meet prescribed criteria for significance and integrity. Members of the community volunteered their time to assist with the project.

The criteria used for the study were identified to meet the requirements for listing on the Alberta and Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Of the 31 resources identified for evaluation, 25 buildings, including Athabasca Public School, and one cultural landscape (Athabasca’s riverfront) were determined to have met the criteria for significance and integrity.

There are four basic stages to the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program:

- survey to identify historic resources in the community

- create a filtered inventory of significant historic places

- develop a management plan for the stewardship of historic resources

- officially designate the historic resources to protect them and register them as municipal, provincial and Canadian historic places


Project participants and supporters are presently working on stage three, the management plan.

More information about the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program can be found at www.mhpp.ab.ca




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