ATHABASCA – If Sara Graling is elected to Athabasca town council on Oct. 18, the learning curve won’t be nearly as steep as it is for some of the other new candidates.
Using her experience in commerce and accounting, along with the knowledge she has gained in Athabasca County’s planning and development department over the last three years, Graling hopes she’ll be able to hit the ground running and contribute to a new council almost immediately.
“Working with the municipality gave me a lot more clarity when it comes to the role of administration and the roles of council and it opened my eyes to where I feel like I can contribute from the council side having worked on the administrative side,” Graling said in an Oct. 6 interview. “I've worked with a lot of non-profits in the area, I would say that there's always been a strong element of service when it comes to being involved in the community and I think council is a really natural extension of that service in a way that has structure and a collaborative team environment to make an impact.”
She points to recently working on the county’s land use bylaw, which helped broaden her understanding as well.
“That experience reviving our land use guidelines and our municipal development plan really helped me to understand the frameworks that are involved in what a municipality can control and what is legislated through the provincial framework,” she said.
She is also interested in developing strategies for the long-term sustainability of the community which incorporates the economic, social and environmental resources available, while at the same time creating a stronger public knowledge network in the area as well.
“A strategy that I really hope to bring to the table is to understand that the more voices we have, the more our overall knowledge (increases) and the more we build on having a long-term framework that we can plan for the requirements of our community as our needs change,” she said.
Graling is also encouraged by seeing the town, county and village teaming up in certain areas like doctor retention, emergency services and tourism and economic development that will help promote the region as a whole, she said, giving special kudos to the TED committee which brings the three municipalities together with entities like Athabasca University and Al-Pac to work on future tourism and economic development goals.
“There's a lot of potential through that committee as well, and those types of intermunicipal efforts can have spectacular results,” she said.