ATHABASCA – The seven men and women tasked with making some of the most important decisions for the Town of Athabasca over the next four years officially took their seats Oct. 26.
The municipality held its annual organizational meeting that day with mayor Rob Balay taking the oath of office to officially become the new mayor of Athabasca. Coun. Ida Edwards will be the first to serve in the deputy mayor position, which will rotate alphabetically among councillors every eight months.
Coun. Sara Graling will take the position in July 2022, followed by Coun. Jon LeMessurier in February 2023 and Coun. Dave Pacholok in November 2023. Coun. Loretta Prosser will serve in the role starting in July 2024 and Coun. Edith Yuill will finish the rotation starting in March 2025 until the 2025 municipal elections in October.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, Balay took the opportunity to say a few words to the new council, four of whom are new to the table, before each had a chance for a few words of their own about one of the things they would like to accomplish in this term.
“I would first like to thank all of the candidates who ran in the election for public office … and I would obviously like to thank and congratulate everyone sitting at this table because for the next four years, you’ve just sworn in to help run our town in the best and the efficient way that we can,” the new mayor said.
Balay added he expects councillors will value and respect each other and be willing to hear what each of them has to say, even if they don’t always agree.
“If we are successful doing that we will be successful as a council. Now, I look forward to some spirited debate and we should expect that, but in the end, once we have made a decision by majority, I expect that everyone will move forward in a united way with that decision,” he said.
One of the things Edwards said she would like to accomplish this term is to tell the collective story of Athabasca to the world in a cohesive way as a means of selling the region to the world.
Yuill said she would like to see a definitive guide for newcomers to navigate the area’s businesses and services as well as an effort to attract more entertainment and recreational events to the Multiplex.
Prosser said she would like to see the riverfront area opened up for more events and tourism opportunities, while Pacholok said his first priority is to help the new medical recruitment and retention committee succeed in attracting new doctors and nurses to the region along with the town’s partners in Athabasca County and Village of Boyle.
LeMessurier said his main goal is to see the Multiplex used to its fullest potential by collaborating with the county to make the facility the main hub in the community for all ages.
Graling said her goal for the next 12 months is to attend a different committee meeting that she’s not familiar with every month to learn as much as she can.
The new council also took on their various committee appointments and administration went through the procedural and code of conduct bylaws and the council/CAO covenant before discussing the annual council retreat, councillor training, electronics policy and attendance at conferences.
The first regular meeting of council will take place Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. and is available to the public via Zoom. Regular meetings will continue to take place on the first and third Tuesday of each month, except in July and August when just one meeting is scheduled.