February '09 Newsletter

Town Council News

February 2009                                                                      Volume 4, Issue 1


Athabasca Centennial Committee invites input

Small-group planning, online communication and a centennial logo competition were three of the key ideas to come out of the Athabasca Centennial Committee planning meeting on February 7.

The Town of Athabasca celebrates 100 years in 2011 and planning for a year-long celebration to commemorate the community’s heritage, identity and future is under way. Members of the community are taking part in the planning and many more are needed to help make the event a success.

Small groups will be encouraged to form and meet on their own to plan specific centennial events. The groups are to report regularly to the Committee executive to help keep the planning focused and organized.

To help facilitate communication between committee members and the community at large, a new group has been formed on the social networking site, Facebook. Members of the site can log in, then search for the group, “Athabasca Centennial.”

Information to be posted in the Athabasca Centennial Facebook group will include committee reports, events and calendars. The site will be interactive, allowing members of the public to view posted information and to leave comments.

Recognizing that not all members of the public have access to the Internet, the Centennial Committee will also make reports and other information available through other methods around town.

Creative members of the community will have an opportunity to put their talent to the test. Town Councillor John Traynor will begin planning a centennial logo competition, inviting participation from the public at large. The winning entry will be subject to final editing and approval of the Centennial Committee.

The ultimate aim of the year-long 2011 celebration in Athabasca is to showcase the community. Many events have been proposed and are being considered. More ideas and suggestions are encouraged and more volunteers to assist with planning are needed.

Interested parties can contact the Athabasca Centennial Committee executive at helloathabasca@hotmail.com.

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Cardboard recycling down but not out in Athabasca

Cardboard and tin stockpiles in Athabasca.  Local recycling practices are as strong as ever, but due to the plummeting value of certain recyclables, they are being stock piled until the market price improves.

Falling prices have reduced the profitability of certain recyclables, and one company is no longer picking up cardboard in the community, but the news is not all bad for local recyclers. Household recycling remains unaffected by the changes and Athabasca recycling practices are still as strong as ever.

Even though prices being paid for such recyclables as cardboard and metals have dropped, there is still a market for them and according to Rob Smith, manager of Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission (ARWMSC), it is business as usual.

“The pricing has changed, but the markets are still there,” Rob confirms.

He expects the pricing to come back up again, although it may take a few years.

“Asian countries were taking a lot of material for recycling, but since the recession, they have cut back,” Rob explains. “Now there is a glut on the North American side.”

Last year, the market was paying $100 per metric ton. Now, Rob has to pay $10 per ton if he wants to have the material hauled away.

“We have been stockpiling cardboard since August,” he says. “We’ve done that before.”

Demand for ARWMSC services increases

Recently, Waste Management, a private company that operates out of Edmonton, discontinued their cardboard pickup services in Athabasca and removed nine cardboard recycling bins, leaving ARWMSC to pick up the slack.

The issue affects certain commercial businesses only and does not affect residential recycling.

A few options are being considered by ARWMSC, including the possibility of acquiring additional cardboard bins to service the needs of former Waste Management customers.

ARWMSC offers cardboard pick-up services in three formats.

“We service about 30 customers with front-lift bins,” notes Rob. “We also service about 25 small businesses that don’t have enough cardboard for a bin; we pick up other recyclables with the cardboard, like tin cans and plastic bags. And we also have a few customers with large roll-off bins.”

Services provided by ARWMSC cover customers both in town and throughout the county.

“We’re at a growing stage in our commercial pick-up,” says Rob. “We could use a second truck.”

Low market value no deterrent to good recycling practices

Despite the current low market value on recyclable materials, recycling programs across the province remain active and stakeholders continue to review potential new incentive programs or enhancements to existing programs.

Rob cites the current television recycling program as a good example that may be considered for other products.

“You pay an environmental fee upfront when you buy the television, and you can bring it to the Athabasca Recycle Facility free when the time comes to get rid of it. It allows the program to process them and recycle them properly.”

A similar program could be applied to materials like oil jugs. The consumer might pay an environmental handling fee at the point of purchase, perhaps 10 cents per container. This would allow the jugs to be collected at a recycle facility for free.

“With a packaging stewardship program like that, the environmental handling fee may be determined by the size of container or amount of packaging used,” says Rob.

Environmental handling fees can help to assure effective recycling practices and can help offset low prices paid for recyclable materials.

“Eventually, the market will stabilize,” says Rob of the current conditions. “It may be three to five years away.”

In the mean time, consumers are being encouraged to keep on recycling because both the markets for the material and the value of recycling remain.

“Even with zero revenue, recycling still shows economically that it makes sense,” Rob points out.

For information, guidelines and schedules regarding trash and recyclables in Athabasca, click here

Please review the guidelines to help prevent the contamination of recyclables and to avoid getting trash or recyclables left behind at the curb due to improper preparation or bagging.

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Aging Athabasca buildings make way for future development

(Top) A contractor piles up rubble from the old curling rink in Athabasca early in February.  (Bottom) Demolition work on the adjacent ice arena began next.  No decisions have been made on the future use of the land.

With mixed emotions, residents of the region bid final farewells to both the old Athabasca ice arena and the old curling rink in February. Demolition of the buildings began early in the month, prompting renewed speculation among community members as to the best future use of the land.

While nothing has as yet been determined, members of Town Council are considering possibilities.

“Council is looking at options for redevelopment of that land,” confirms Town Chief Administrative Officer Doug Topinka, noting that one option that may be considered is the development of an affordable housing subdivision.

The land in question is located south of 45 Ave. on the west side of 48 St. directly across from Edwin Parr Composite School.

The curling rink was the first to go after the demolition contractor arrived on Feb. 2. Systematically, the building was reduced to rubble then scooped and sorted into piles before being loaded into trucks to be carted away.

In order to break up the concrete base underlying the former curling lanes, the equipment operator dropped an enormous concrete wrecking ball again and again before a spot crumbled sufficiently to allow the teeth of his scoop to sink in and begin peeling up chunks of cement.

The next day, after tidying up the former curling site a bit and while waiting for the trucks to return, the operator turned his attention to the old ice arena starting with the front (south) annex. Between loading trucks and cleaning up the curling site, he spent the next two days taking that section of the building down and cleaning up the area.

On Feb. 5, the eastside annex came down. Demolition of the main arena building followed later in the month.

The old arena and curling rink served the community for many years. They were replaced last year with the new Athabasca Regional Multiplex. The Multiplex was commissioned into service in January 2008 with official grand opening ceremonies conducted March 7-8 of that year.

Multiplex develops as center of community activity

Since opening the doors a year ago, the Athabasca Regional Multiplex has developed well as a focal point for a variety of sporting events and other community activities. The facility is located at #2 University Drive, across from Athabasca University.

Featuring an ice arena, curling rink, multipurpose field house, fitness centre, community meeting rooms, lounge, concession and other amenities, the Multiplex carries on traditions began in other facilities like the former arena, the former curling rink and the Athabasca Community Center.

According to Rob Balay, Manager of Regional Recreation Services, the strength of the Multiplex is its multipurpose appeal, housing many features and benefits under one roof.

“The Multiplex is becoming busier and busier as people realize what they can do here,” says Rob. “Overall community support has been tremendous over the past year.”

A recent example highlights the multipurpose aspect and flexibility of the facility.

“One evening we had 500 to 600 people in here for a community supper, then later the same evening we had the adult volleyball group in the same space,” Rob recalls.

With the sale of the old Athabasca Community Center last year, more groups and organizations are turning to the Athabasca Regional Multiplex to hold their events. It is recommended to plan ahead and book early to avoid disappointment.

Visit the Athabasca Regional Multiplex for more information.

Community Center sold, no immediate plans available

The Athabasca Community Center is another long standing landmark in the community destined to be replaced by new development in some form.

However, according to the new land owners, Buy-Low Foods, it is too soon to confirm the specific nature of the development or the timeline in which it will occur.

“I know the community is anxiously awaiting details,” states Brad Breckenridge, Northern Alberta Operations Co-ordinator for Buy-Low Foods. “All I can say right now is that plans are in progress for removal of the Community Center building and our development plans are moving forward.”

Once definite plans are in place and the specific details have been finalized, Buy-Low Foods will make an official public announcement.

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