February '11 Newsletter

Town Council News

February 2011                                                                                                                          Volume 6, Issue 1

Limit reached on Athabasca Centennial Grant applications 


Local groups have responded well to an invitation from the Athabasca Centennial Committee to apply for Centennial Promotions Grants of up to $500 and the maximum number of applications has been reached. Now, the Committee is looking for a commitment from the qualifying groups to provide volunteer assistance during two major events scheduled in July and September.

Planning is well underway for the Centennial Celebration weekend, July 29-31, and the Town of Athabasca 100thBirthday Party, September 17. Both events will require significant volunteer support. Groups that have received Centennial Grant funding are encouraged to provide a total of at least 10 volunteer hours to the cause.

Volunteer support is not limited to only the groups receiving funding. All members of the community interested in helping out are welcome to step forward. Volunteers will be needed to assist with event set up and tear down, site supervision and site security. There may also be opportunities to help with planning and preparation for certain events and activities.

The Committee hopes to create a schedule of volunteers in advance to make sure the needs of the Centennial Weekend and Birthday Party events are fully covered. The sooner a commitment of volunteer support can be received, the better it will be for all concerned. If a group or an individual has a particular date or a particular event they would like to help with, it is recommended that they contact the Centennial Committee soon before that date or event is claimed by other groups.

Department of Canadian Heritage honours grant request

The Athabasca Centennial Committee received word last week that a grant application recently submitted to the Department of Canadian Heritage has been awarded in the amount of $32,200. The committee was advised that a formal letter from the Minister and an official press release would be forthcoming.

Pleased to hear the good news, Mayor Roger Morrill responded to the Minister’s office, saying, “The Town of Athabasca extends its most sincere thanks to the Government of Canada for support in celebrating our 100th anniversary. Our community has flourished over the last century due to our citizens’ vision and spirit.”

The grant application involved a lengthy form that required detailed information and insight into specific events planned and the intended use of the grant money, should it be awarded. After consulting with the Centennial Committee in general, several members of the Committee spent a number of hours preparing the grant application for submission. The time and effort that was committed to the process was greatly appreciated by all committee members. Those who contributed to the successful initiative are to be congratulated.

Centennial planning highlights from January meeting

The Centennial Committee reviewed and discussed a long list of planned and proposed activities during their monthly meeting in January. The intent is to showcase the town and bring the community together for a grand celebration.

As the major events draw nearer, Centennial decals, banners and lapel pins will begin appearing in greater numbers throughout the town; Centennial postcards have been distributed; and more information is being added to the Athabasca 2011 Centennial website.

Planning is underway for a Centennial parade, scheduled for July 2. The theme of the parade is “100 floats for 100 Years” and community members with ideas for parade entries are encouraged to begin planning for it.

Town Council and Town staff have volunteered to host and serve a community dinner, free to the public, on the riverfront during the Centennial Celebration weekend in July.

A proposal has been received from a company that offers hot air balloon rides. If all goes as hoped, the community could see balloons floating along the riverfront in July.

More information will be made available about the above events and many other planned and proposed attractions as details are confirmed.

Check the events calendar on the Athabasca 2011 Centennial website for events by the month. Watch for event announcements and join in the celebrations!

Contact details for the Centennial Committee are available on the website.

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Kathy Wright, Athabasca Country Tourism Coordinator, looks forward to a busy and productive year spreading the news about all that the region has to offer.

Busy year ahead for Athabasca Country Tourism

Athabasca Country Tourism coordinator Kathy Wright has a busy year ahead with plenty of opportunities to market and promote the region as a preferred tourist destination. In March alone, Kathy has three major out-of-town trade shows to attend; two in Edmonton and one in Calgary.

“I’m definitely getting knowledgeable about trade shows,” she admits. “There are eight or nine this year, with March being a big month. In April, there’s a ‘stay in Alberta’ type of show in Fort McMurray. That will be a very good show for us.”

Closer to home, Kathy is looking forward to the Athabasca Outdoor Show, sponsored by 94.1 The River, to be hosted in the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, May 6-7.

If preparing for and attending trade shows isn’t enough to keep Athabasca’s tourism coordinator busy, she has a variety of other meetings, events and responsibilities to tend to as well, including training sessions and workshops for tourism staff and tourism operators, a variety of Athabasca 2011 Centennial events, and of course, overseeing the Athabasca Visitor Centre.

“The Visitor Centre is in the Athabasca Train Station again this year and I’ll be hiring two summer students to staff the centre,” says Kathy. “It’s a great location, making for some great conversation.”

Identified in 2006 as one of the 25 most significant historic resources in the Town of Athabasca, the Train Station, an original CNR prototype, is a well-known landmark located on 50 St.

One of the numerous attractions to be highlighted this Centennial year will be an Art in the Park and Farmers Market event being planned for the Riverfront in June. It is hoped that the event will be received well and can be expanded upon each year.

“For the Art in the Park event, artists and craftspeople can display their work and offer it for sale,” Kathy explains. “For the Farmers Market, we hope to have produce, baking and all the typical items you would expect to find there.”

Kathy works closely with local groups like the Magnificent River Rats and the Athabasca Centennial Committee. She also has a good working relationship with Travel Alberta, North, sometimes participating with them in shared funding opportunities for qualifying events.

Staff training sessions and workshops for local tourism operators are often provided by Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. “We’ll have more Travel Alberta workshops coming up, and they’re free,” Kathy advises.

In May, there will be an Alberta Visitor Information Providers (AVIP) training session. The goal of AVIP is to develop a provincial network of visitor information centers recognizable to the visitor for the high level of professional service offered. Kathy is pleased that Athabasca will be part of this Alberta Tourism program.

“We accredited the Athabasca Visitor Centre last year through Alberta Tourism,” she explains. “In addition to staff training, we can access a variety of benefits, resources and support through Alberta Tourism.”

Coordinator enjoys the community

Kathy has served Athabasca Country Tourism as coordinator for about two months now and is enjoying the experience.

“I am absolutely loving the community,” she declares. “The region has so much to offer in tourism – history, fishing, trail systems, winter sports. I was very excited when I got the job and the Town and the County have been very welcoming.”

Previously, she has managed visitor centres in Alberta and British Columbia. She also supports and promotes volunteerism. “I like to volunteer and be involved in the community.”

Athabasca Country Tourism is governed by a board of directors and Kathy is currently looking for more board members. Interested tourism operators and retail business owners are encouraged to contact her for more information.

Tourism operators include tour guides, campgrounds, hotels, restaurants and anyone who offers a service to tourists and visitors.

Retail business owners should have a voice on the board, too, notes Kathy, because tourism contributes to the economic well being of the entire business community.

Contact Kathy at 780-675-2230, or visit the Athabasca Country Tourism website.

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New waste collection system faring well despite weather

Extreme winter weather conditions, including heavy snowfall and low temperatures, have put the new automated waste cart collection system to the test in Athabasca and Boyle, but the program has come through with flying colours.

The collection truck handles well in the snow, says Rob Smith, manager of Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission (ARWMSC), and staff have learned how to deal with frozen and stubborn hydraulics when the temperature dips to the extreme.

“We knew snow was a challenge we would face,” says Rob, “but the truck is good, it pushes through the snow fine. The only issue we’ve had is with the hydraulic hook-ups when it gets cold, but we know what to do about it now. The staff have a process to deal with it.”

Since introducing the new collection system last fall, the program has gone well. Residents are supportive and have learned how to properly position their waste cart on pick up day. They park it on the street with the wheels in line with the curb or the road edge, point it towards the center of the road, and space it with a full arm’s length of clearance on all sides between the cart and any blue recycle bins, vehicles and other obstructions.

While deep snow did present a challenge, most residents have managed to adapt. Information was recently published in the local newspaper on how to use the waste carts when snow is present: if there is a snow bank along the curb, the cart can be placed further out from the curb because carts should not be placed in a snow bank; carts should be placed standing straight up and on a firm footing.

Residents are reminded that waste carts should be removed from the street after the collection truck has been by to help facilitate snow removal by the Town Public Works staff.

During the first snow of the season some residents had trouble with their waste carts, so the waste pick-up driver helped them. Rob advises that if any residents, seniors in particular, have concerns or need assistance, whether now or at any time throughout the year, they should contact ARWMSC.

“Some seniors find the waste carts too difficult to handle,” Rob explains. “We can arrange a special pick up for them. We’re doing that now for about a half dozen residents.”

As successful as the new automated waste collection system has been, there are a few dozen residences in Athabasca where manual pick up is still required. Additionally, small businesses continue to be serviced with manual pick up.

In general, the new collection system is going as planned, says Rob. “It’s very efficient.”

Eventually, he hopes to see the pickup service modified to better reflect the needs of individual households.

“We’d like to expand on the types of service we offer. For example, offering weekly, bi-weekly or monthly pickups with different rates for each.”

These options are still being reviewed and the public will be advised if they come available.

For more information about the automated waste cart collection system or with any questions for Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission, contact Rob at 780-675-1117. 

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