February '13 Newsletter

 

Town Bylaw Officer Believes in Community


Athabasca's Bylaw Officer, Shaun Woloschuk, enjoys getting involved in the community.  His aim is to make a positive difference in Athabasca.

The Town’s new Bylaw Officer has been very active since beginning his duties in November. Chances are you’ve seen him around town, and for many who have already met him, it has likely been a positive experience.

Shaun Woloschuk considers himself to be a “people person” and one of his goals is to meet as many members of the community as possible. His aim is to make his presence known as a caring and contributing member of the community, both on and off the job.

“I believe in community policing and some days you just have to get out there and talk to people, shake their hands, get to know them,” says Shaun. “I am grateful that the Town of Athabasca has presented me with this opportunity to make a difference here and supports my interest in community involvement. I like getting involved in projects and programs and fundraisers that support local organizations and groups.”

Shaun served as a Peace Officer in the Edmonton area for two years before applying for the Bylaw Officer/Peace Officer position in Athabasca. He is upgrading his qualifications in February and expects to become the Town’s Peace Officer in March.

He is pleased that the Town allows him the flexibility to choose some of the projects he takes on. He takes great pride in the things he does.

One example is Whispering Hills Primary School where the teaching staff have appreciated Shaun’s help in creating more safety awareness around the school buses when the buses are at the school delivering or picking up students.

“There is a painted crosswalk leading from the parking lot to the school,” he explains, “but it was obscured by the snow and some parents were becoming relaxed about where they crossed from the parking lot. I spray-painted yellow lines over the snow, put down some traffic cones and greeted students and parents as they came by. We got the message across and people were supportive of what we were doing. Kids wave when they see me now. Bus drivers wave. It sets a good example and gives me a good feeling.”

In his quest to meet more people and to become better known in the community, Shaun discovered the monthly breakfast hosted by the Athabasca and District Seniors Society.

“The Seniors Pancake Breakfast is a great way for everybody to get out and socialize,” he says. “It’s a great way to meet the community, and the seniors there have such interesting stories to tell.”

Shaun also watches for opportunities to provide support to other services in the community like the fire department and the RCMP. For example, he has voluntarily stopped on the highway to direct traffic when members of the fire department were tending to a vehicle rollover in the ditch.

“If I see someone in need, I have to help. It’s just the way I am.”

He tells the story of how there had been some suspicious activity in his Edmonton neighbourhood, so he initiated a “Porch Light” program. He encouraged residents on his block to leave their porch lights on at night and if anybody looked out and noticed anything suspicious, they were to immediately report it. Not only did it help to deter crime and make residents feel safer, but the program branched out as people from other neighbourhoods learned about it.

On another occasion, Shaun caught a culprit in an act of break-and-enter and detained the suspect with his “gift of gab” rather than force, aside from handcuffing the suspect to a chair until the police arrived. The Edmonton Police Service commended him for the way he handled the situation and nominated him for a Citizen Award, which he received in 2010.

Here in Athabasca, he will continue his interest in building rapport with individuals and groups throughout the community. In his role as Bylaw Officer, soon to be Peace Officer, he plans to review related Town bylaws and make recommendations for revisions or updates where he considers it to be appropriate.

“The town is growing,” he explains. “Some of the bylaws and rules and regulations just naturally need to be reviewed and updated.”

Shaun plans to remain here for some time, as he appreciates how a smaller community offers a more relaxed atmosphere compared to a larger centre like Edmonton. He is familiar with the fishing and hunting in the region and enjoys camping.

“I’m looking to establish new roots in the area,” he declares. “I’m here to stay!”

Shaun can be reached through the Town Office at 780-675-2063.

 

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Councillor Evans: Emphasis on Environment


Paula Evans, Town Councillor

Town Councillor Paula Evans keeps a close watch on a variety of town-related issues knowing that each one is significant to the residents who are interested in or concerned about them.

One of the perspectives that she personally brings to Council that is beyond business as usual is her emphasis on what she refers to as “the dreaded ‘E’ word” – the environment.

“I am the Councillor that people talk to about concerns with items such as traffic noise, vehicles idling, herbicide spraying and water quality,” says Paula. “So, I support and encourage changes in municipal practices that result in conservation of resources, which, of course, saves money as well.”

An avid advocate for the responsible care and management of natural resources, Paula notes that the quality of our air, land and water affects our quality of life. She has a particular concern about the amount of water used for resource extraction.

“To put it mildly, resource extraction uses a great deal of water. If we do not look after our resources we will have a much poorer quality of life in many ways, including socially – for example in health and recreation – and economically.”

Regarding responsible resource management, Paula points to local waste management and local water rates as two positive examples.

“This town has an excellent waste management program which continues to evolve to increase recycling opportunities,” she says. “A waste management program is good when it is convenient for the user, and attempts to keep costs low. Our depots have excellent sorting systems that allow recyclable materials to be marketed. Our ‘take it or leave it’ feature is a great addition.”

Paula notes that local water rates are set to encourage conservation and she refers residents to the Town-sponsored toilet replacement and rain barrel rebate programs. Details about these programs are available at the Town Office.

She acknowledges that despite the positives the town has to offer, there is still much more that can be done to improve the community and, she notes, it is often an uphill battle to gain sufficient consensus to move a project forward.

“Some things to work on are public transportation, energy reduction education, encouraging local food marketing, composting, managing our urban forest resources and practicing permaculture,” says Paula.

“Public transportation is a service worth pursuing because not everyone in Athabasca can, or wishes to drive all the time,” she explains. “We have a very spread out community and the hills make it difficult to bike. Therefore, it would be nice to offer some simple, straightforward route that could move people around at certain useful times of the day.”

There are a number of other issues affecting the community that Paula also feels very strongly about.

“Some of my present concerns are the necessity for a safety by-pass route, management of our increasingly expensive infrastructure, including what is not visible to the average person, replacement of our lost campground, a new library downtown, and the effectiveness of the new Highway 55/813 interchange – a wonderful wildlife corridor has been eliminated.”

Not every town resident is concerned about environmental issues. Paula aims to do her best to effectively represent those who are concerned. Ultimately, responsible resource management and good environmental stewardship help to enhance the quality of life for every resident, whether they think about those things or not.

 

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New Library and Archives being considered

 

The consensus among many in the community is that it is time for a new public library and archives in Athabasca. Interested parties have been active in encouraging Town Councillors and Athabasca County Councillors to make a new library building project a priority.

Councillors generally agree that it is a worthy project to consider and that steps forward to research and plan the proposed project should continue.

The aim is to design a new facility that would effectively serve the needs and interests of local users and stakeholders while meeting the current operational standards for a contemporary library and archives.

In a January News Release issued by the Alice B. Donahue Library and Archives Board, board chair Lori Barr stated, “There has never been a purpose-built library and archives in Athabasca. To continue to meet the needs of patrons, to be able to expand services and to preserve our cultural heritage, a new building is needed.”

The potential project was given a boost last year when the Library Board received a Blue Sky Award from Edmonton architects Manasc Isaac to develop some initial concepts. The results were presented at a public information session in Athabasca in January.

Information provided by the architects stated that in addition to helping to preserve the heritage of Athabasca and region, a new library and archives would serve to “ensure the ongoing and expanding educational, recreational and cultural needs of residents of the town and county.”

The architects also stated that “public libraries should be located as close as possible to the downtown business and shopping district, the community’s strategic centre, on major traffic routes, both pedestrian and vehicular.”

At this stage, a location for the proposed new facility has not yet been determined, as benefits of location and differences of opinion are still being debated.

Additional reasons for needing a new building, as noted in the Library and Archives Board January News Release, include:

  • Current building does not comply with standard guidelines for accessibility.
  • Existing library shelves and archive cabinets have limited positioning due to weight loads.
  • Archives do not presently have temperature and humidity controls.
  • Current lack of space and age of mechanical and electrical systems restrict expansion of programming, technology and conservation needs.

 

Library User Survey

Information from Manasc Isaac Architects included statistics from a library user survey conducted from October 15 through November 10, 2012:

  • Of the 332 people who responded to the question “Where do you live?” 49.7 per cent lived in town, while 50.3 per cent lived out of town.
  • When asked how they arrived at the library, 81 per cent said by car, 16 per cent walked, and 1.5 per cent by other means.
  • About 79 per cent were running other errands with their visit to the library, while 21.4 per cent were not running other errands.
  • About 33 per cent were traveling with other people; 60.5 per cent were not traveling with other people.
  • Almost 20 per cent of the respondents were senior; just over 72 per cent were adults; five per cent were youth.

Survey respondents gave a variety of reasons for visiting the library, including: to pick up materials (71.1 per cent); use a computer (19.6 per cent); attend Story Time/Children’s room (13.3 per cent); study or tutor (4.5 per cent); use the printer or fax (six per cent); read the paper (9.6 per cent); meet others (4.8 per cent); volunteer (1.8 per cent); other reason(s) (11.4 per cent). Respondents were asked to check all reasons that applied.

The Library Board News Release included a brief overview of the history of the present library:

“The first public library opened in 1947. Since then the library and archives have been housed in the old town office, the new town office, the old community centre, the old provincial building and, since 1979, its current location, originally an annex of the Brick School known as the Stucco School.”

The News Release also indicated that because the building now housing the current library and archives was not built for those purposes, the utility, flexibility and functionality of the building are severely restricted.

For more information about the Alice B. Donahue Library and Archives, please visit the website or phone 780-675-2735.

 

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