October'14 Newsletter

Fire Chief Denis Mathieu Honoured for 30-year Milestone

Fire Chief Denis Mathieu (center) with members of the Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department (l-r)
Captain Travis Shalapay, Deputy Chief Ryan Bodnarchuk, Firefighter Cody Shalapay, Captain Justin Zahara, Firefighter Brant Marshall

When Fire Chief Denis Mathieu launched his career as a volunteer firefighter in Athabasca 30 years ago, he did it to get involved in his new community...and to get free rent for the land where he and his family were residing! Local resident Bob Richards offered the rent deal as an incentive for him to join the fire department.

Since then, Denis has served the community well. For this, he received special recognition from members of the local fire department and from Athabasca Town Council during the recent Council Appreciation Dinner.

Fire team members presented him with a beautifully crafted custom-designed leather fire helmet.

“I was surprised and touched by this thoughtful gift,” says Denis. “I work with a great team of dedicated guys. The way they chose to celebrate my 30 years on the fire department is absolutely awesome. Huge thanks go out to them.”

Town Council has nominated Denis for a Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award. Only six Albertans are chosen annually to receive this prestigious award.

In response, he says, “I have been a volunteer on the Athabasca Fire Department for the past 30 years because I love being a firefighter and for the satisfaction of knowing that I have been able to help and contribute to this community. Whether I am the recipient of this honour or not, it is an honour to have been nominated and I truly appreciate the recognition from our Mayor and Town Council.”

The Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department typically responds to between 70 and 90 calls per year.

Currently, the department has 13 active and five reserve members. Denis says that more volunteers are needed and that there should be at least 24 members. He encourages anyone with a sincere interest to look into joining the team.

Everyone in the community, whether interested in volunteering or not, is invited to attend an Open House BBQ scheduled for 5 p.m. on October 7 at the Athabasca Fire Hall.

The event highlights Fire Prevention Week, October 5 – 11, and features interactive activities, fire alarm safety tips, give-a-ways and the opportunity to meet local volunteer firefighters.


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Pool Borrowing Bylaw Voting Results

Town residents voted in favour of Swimming Pool Borrowing Bylaw 09-14 in a public vote held on September 15 (advance poll, Sept. 4). Out of a total of 566 votes cast, 364 people said yes to the bylaw and 202 said no.

The bylaw passed first reading of Town Council in June. Council considered second and third reading of the bylaw at the September 16 Council meeting, but chose to wait until additional details relating to the pool project could be provided before proceeding to those readings at a later date.

The bylaw authorizes the Town to borrow up to $5,000,000 from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority for the Town’s share in the construction of an indoor pool facility, valued at $10,000,000.


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New Fire Emergency Number: 780-963-9111

The former phone number for the local fire hall, 780-675-2200, is no longer in use. Instead, 780-963-9111 is the new number to use for fire emergencies in Athabasca.

Non-emergency inquiries for the Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department can be directed to the Town Office, 780-675-2063.

The new fire emergency number went into effect on September 1. The 780-963-9111 number goes to Parkland Dispatch where a dispatcher forwards the call to the fire department in the respective community.

Direct 911 calls also go through to Parkland Dispatch. This helps to alleviate the number of calls going to 911 front line operators.

All home owners equipped with alarm systems, as well as businesses, organizations, institutions and alarm companies need to update their emergency contact list phone number with the new 780-963-9111 number immediately.


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Council Appreciation Dinner


(l-r) Rick Kolach, Town Outside Services Superintendent (l), presents OS employee Steve Pidzarko with a commemorative plaque to recognize Steve
for reaching his 25-year milestone working for the Town; Roger Morrill (l) with Fire Chief Denis Mathieu and the customized leather fire helmet Denis received from members of 
the Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department upon reaching his 30-year milestone with the department.

September 11th marked the date of this year’s Council Appreciation Dinner, an event hosted annually by Athabasca Town Council to recognize town employees and members of the community for their effort, commitment and contributions.

Following the meal, prior to acknowledgements and presentations, Mayor Roger Morrill invited Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Bodnarchuk to lead the group in a short memorial and moment of silence to remember the 343 firefighters and others who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001.

Roger then expressed thanks and appreciation on behalf of Council to all members of the community, whether present or not in attendance, for their many contributions to the betterment of the community over the past year.

Naming each group or individual one by one, he invited those present to stand and receive the acknowledgement they so deserved. Nearly 20 different groups, organizations and initiatives were represented.

Town staff were next on the list and on behalf of Council, Roger extended thanks to all employees working in the outside services department and in the Town Office. He gave particular acknowledgement to Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Melody Wolansky, who is currently filling the CAO shoes while the Town seeks to fill the vacant position.

Not wanting to overlook anyone, Roger also extended thanks and appreciation to the Athabasca Regional Multiplex and Athabasca Landing Pool staff for their service.

Steve Pidzarko, from Town outside services, was acknowledged for reaching his 25-year milestone with the Town. Outside Services Superintendent Rick Kolach presented Steve with a commemorative plaque to mark the achievement.

The final group of the evening to receive recognition for their commitment and dedication was the Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department.

Roger invited the members present to come forward where they were acknowledged. The group then made a special presentation. Recognizing Fire Chief Denis Mathieu for 30 years of dedicated service to the department, they presented him with a unique, custom-designed leather fire helmet.

Roger presented Denis with a commemorative plaque from the Town and announced that to further recognize him for his 30 years of commitment and service, Town Council had nominated him for a Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award, a prestigious award bestowed upon only six Albertans annually. All in the community who know Denis are hoping that he becomes one of the chosen!

Many who attended the Council Appreciation Dinner expressed appreciation in return to the Mayor and Councillors for hosting the event and to the Town staff members who helped with the planning and organization​.


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Fire Hall Parking Concerns

Despite "No Parking" notices emblazened on the Fire Hall windows and "No Parking, Emergency Access Route" signs on the Fire Hall lot,
drivers still leave their vehicles parked  while attending nearby businesses


There is a safety concern with unauthorized vehicles parking on the lot of the Athabasca Fire Hall. The public is advised to not park on the lot without authorization and then only where designated.

The Fire Hall is located near a couple of businesses and while it may seem like a convenient place to park for just a few minutes, it does create a safety issue when firefighters are called to duty. In some instances, the emergency access has been blocked by parked vehicles.

The Town and members of the Athabasca Volunteer Fire Department are looking into ways to alleviate the issue. For now, the public is being asked to be aware of the concern and to refrain from parking on the fire hall lot.


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Off-Leash Dog Park Update

The response from the community has been favourable and the plan is to keep Athabasca’s off-leash dog park open for a while longer, at least until the snow flies.

Currently located at the Jubilee Park ball diamond across from the high school, the park offers a large, fenced area where dogs can run free. Owners and caregivers will find a handy trash receptacle onsite along with pet waste bags.

The man behind the plan, Athabasca Peace Officer Shaun Woloschuk, is pleased with the public response so far and shares some encouraging statistics from the sign-in sheets at the park.

“We’re seeing double the amount of people going to use the park. For example, one day there were 25 dogs and 37 people; another day, 34 dogs and 34 people; and another day, 24 dogs and 49 people. They’re going down there with families,” says Shaun. “That shows that it is working, the park is viable.”

He thanks all who have shown support during this trial run. Come spring, consideration will again be given to opening an off-leash dog park, although the location may not be the same. For now, Shaun encourages everyone and their dog to make good use of the existing location while the weather holds out.


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