June '10 Newsletter

Town Council News

June 2010                                                                                                                          Volume 5, Issue 3

Water rates are rising in Athabasca

There’s no avoiding it, says the Mayor: the rates for water usage have recently gone up in the Town of Athabasca and they will soon be taking another significant leap.

The good news is, compared to other communities, the water rates here are still reasonable and residents who practice better habits of water conservation may be able to take some of the bite out of their water bill.

“We want to encourage people to conserve water,” says Athabasca Mayor Colleen Powell. “Water is the new oil.”

In May, residential water users began paying a base rate of $27.90 for up to 18 cubic meters per billing cycle (two months). The previous rate was $24.30.

Additionally, for amounts of water used between 19-45 cubic meters, they began paying $1.65 per cubic meter, and for amounts exceeding 45 cubic meters, they began paying $1.75 per cubic meter. The previous rates were $1.45 and $1.55 respectively.

One cubic meter equals 220 gallons.

“Paying at a base rate of $27.90 for up to 18 cubic meters is pretty darn cheap,” says Colleen. “If you use a lot of water, you’re going to pay for it.”

Council is currently reviewing the base rate volume.

“Some councillors would like to see the flat rate volume of 18 cubes lowered,” she notes. “We’re looking at various options.”

Water rates will rise when new treatment plant opens

The new water treatment plant on Wood Heights Road is scheduled to open in a couple of months and when it does, the water rates in Athabasca will take another jump.

“Residents may be paying roughly $3.00 per cube after the new plant opens,” advises Colleen. “The Town will be buying water from the Athabasca Regional Water Services Commission at a cost currently estimated to be around $1.765 per meter cubed.”

She wants residents to be clear on what is being paid for.

“We do not pay for the pipelines or for water distribution outside the town. Water rates in town are based on use; we pay only for what we use. We use the water treatment plant, not the pipelines.”

Water treated at the plant will be sold by the Regional Water Commission to the Town of Athabasca, Athabasca County and Village of Boyle. The three municipalities are joint partners in the building project and in overseeing the administration of the facility.

“We are part owners through the Commission,” says Colleen. “We were strongly encouraged by the government to enter into the (joint) process of building a regional water system. As a result, we have a state of the art facility that a small community could not normally build.”

Costs to each municipality for their share of the water treatment plant are based on the volume of water used by the municipality.

“The Village of Boyle and Athabasca County will pay a lesser share, but they must pay for the pipelines. We do not pay for the pipelines,” Colleen emphasizes. “We only pay in capital for our portion of the water treatment plant.”

Full cost recovery for water right for Athabasca

Colleen notes that some municipalities in the province still roll their costs for water into property taxes. But she doesn’t feel that is the right process for the Town of Athabasca and that is why a full cost recovery method is used here.

“We put all our costs on water as a utility, rather than on property,” she explains. “About a third of the buildings in town pay no taxes. By doing water as a utility, everybody pays.”

That seems to be the direction being encouraged by the provincial government.

“If we didn’t do this, the government would make us do it soon,” says Colleen. “In time, they’ll make every community do it as full cost recovery.”

Residential Toilet Replacement Program still available

Colleen encourages residents who have not already done so to take advantage of the Residential Toilet Replacement Program available from the Town. Residents can receive a rebate of $50 on approved brands. Low flow toilets will reduce water usage and anything that can be done to conserve water these days is a good thing, she says.

“We’ve been spoiled. Water was an easily available commodity that we’ve taken for granted for a long time. Compared to other communities, our water rates are very reasonable – but there’s only one way the rates are going!”


Details about the toilet replacement program are available from the Town Office.

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Centennial Committee seeks photos, calls for a

The Town of Athabasca Centennial Committee has a couple of opportunities available for those with creative inclinations who want to share their talent.

The purpose of the Committee is to encourage local groups and individuals to develop and run their own Centennial 2011 events. The Committee will help coordinate and track the dates of events as scheduled throughout the Centennial year and, where possible, will help promote the events.

However, the Committee does have two particular projects that it is organizing: first, a photo calendar to showcase Athabasca; and second, the development of a lasting commemorative to mark the Town’s 100th anniversary.

For the photo calendar, Town Councillor Paula Evans, a Centennial Committee member, encourages photographers of all skill levels to submit their photos for consideration.

“The Centennial Committee invites you to submit your Athabasca photos for the Centennial calendar or the Centennial website,” says Paula. “The theme is ‘A Slice of Life’ – photos of contemporary Athabasca.”

Photos can be submitted in either digital or print format.

Digital submissions should be in JPEG format, 300 DPI, and should be able to be printed up to 8 x 10 inches. They can be sent by email to info@athabasca2011.com.

Print submissions should be either 5 x 7 inches or 8 x 10 inches. These can be dropped off at the Town office in care of Montana Skye, Executive Secretary and also a member of the Centennial Committee.

“If your photo is chosen, you will be asked to sign a release form,” notes Paula, “so please make sure any identifiable people in your pictures are comfortable with the submission.”

The Town Office is located at 4705 – 49 Ave., Athabasca, AB T9S 1B7

Call for Commemorative Proposals

The second project being organized by the Centennial Committee is the development of a lasting commemorative.

“The Centennial Committee is looking for a commemorative, such as a work of art, monument, statue, mural, garden or anything else that will serve as a lasting symbol to commemorate Athabasca Centennial 2011,” explains Committee member Joan Veenstra.

Suitable ideas can be submitted for consideration however submissions must be received no later than September 16 of this year. One item will be chosen and the cost to produce the item will be funded.

Interested parties are invited to submit their ideas to the Town Office in care of Montana Skye. Please include your name, telephone number, email address, a detailed description of the suggested commemorative, drawings or photos, and an estimated cost to produce the item.

Electronic submissions can also be submitted and should be sent to montana@town.athabasca.ab.ca


The Committee is hoping to receive a wide variety of ideas and will select an item that will effectively and appropriately suit the purpose.

Executive members of the Town of Athabasca Centennial Committee meet the third Thursday each month to review ongoing centennial planning and to receive presentations from local groups and individuals who plan to hold events in 2011.

Check the Facebook page for Centennial updates: log in to your Facebook account and search for “Town of Athabasca 2011 Centennial.”

Luke Chernish models a few items of clothing imprinted with the Athabasca 2011 Centennial logo.  A selection of Centennial items are abailable at Cheap Seats Sporting Goods, in Athabasca, where Luke is employed.

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Rob Smith, Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission manager, displays a waste collection cart like those soon coming to Athabasca.  The carts will have built-in radio frequency identification tags that will be scanned by the device in the bottom right corner of the photo.


Residents to receive new waste collection carts in




Waste collection in Athabasca is definitely taking a step into the realm of advanced technology: new trash carts, due to arrive later in July, will each be equipped with a unique electronic tracking device that will ultimately assist in improving local waste collection services. Residents will begin receiving the carts in August.

The new carts, along with trucks specially equipped for automated waste collection, are all part of a new program being introduced by the Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission (ARWMSC). Most residences in the Town of Athabasca and Village of Boyle will receive one of the 64-gallon carts, electronically coded to the address of the specific residence.

Rob Smith, ARWMSC manager, highlights the reasoning behind the new system: “Our current waste collection equipment was due for replacement, so two years ago the Commission started investigating alternative options for waste collection. Prices for fuel, shortage of labour, and injury claims have been driving collection costs up and this new collection system will help overcome those challenges.”

Ever since its inception, the Waste Management Commission has watched for ways to improve efficiencies in all areas of operation.

“Throughout the Commission’s existence, we’ve always been trying to streamline and improve efficiencies,” confirms Rob. “Even with increased volumes of material to be handled and sorted, we’ve always managed to pretty much stay at the same staff levels.”

The new waste collection carts will have built-in radio frequency tags, and Commission staff will use handheld scanners to read the tags. Initially, the units will record pickup times and pickup frequency of the carts for each residence. Eventually, other uses for the devices and the information they collect will be applied to further improve the efficiency of the waste collection process.


In time, it may even be possible to customize the collection frequency for individual households to better reflect their recycling habits. For example, notes Rob, a household that recycles effectively may not require weekly waste pickup. This could result in a lower cost for collection services for that household than for a household with a heavier weekly volume of trash.

While customized service is not yet available, should it come to pass, the radio frequency tags will help to streamline the process.

Rob expects the new waste collection carts to be available and rolled out in stages to neighbourhoods in Athabasca and Boyle in August. In addition to the radio frequency tags, each cart will be marked with a serial number unique to the residence. While there is no initial cost to the homeowner for the cart, the homeowner may be responsible for the cost of replacing a cart if it is lost or damaged.

Prior to the delivery of the carts, additional advertising and information will be circulated in the community to keep residents informed. Rob wants to make sure they know when their cart will be arriving.

“If a resident is going to be away at the time we plan to deliver carts to their neighbourhood, they can advise the Commission by phone or email and we can arrange to deliver their cart when they return,” he notes.

Once a cart has been delivered, the homeowner can begin using it immediately. Trash must be bagged and then it can be placed in the cart and rolled out to the curb on the regular garbage day. Large wheels make it easy to move the cart.

Complete instructions and guidelines for the use and positioning of the cart will be delivered with the cart. Basically, the resident just has to remember to “park it, point it and space it.”

-The cart must be parked on the street with the wheels in line with the curb or road edge.

-Arrows on the cart must point to the centre of the road.

-          The cart must be spaced with 1.2 metres of clearance (a full arm’s length) on all sides.


Unfortunately, there are a few areas in the community where the new automated waste collection system may not work.


“If no front street access exists, or the grade and terrain do not permit safe application for the cart system, an alternate method of waste collection or location of the cart will be specified,” advises Rob. He anticipates that about 90 per cent of the homes in Athabasca will be on the cart system.


The Athabasca Regional Waste Commission wants to make the transition to the new system as easy as possible. Residents who have questions are welcome to contact the Commission by telephone at 780-675-1117, or by email at arwmsc@mcsnet.ca

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