ATHABASCA – Dave Pacholok is running for Athabasca town council this time around for a lot of the same reasons he did in 2017.
“When I finally retired, or semi-retired, whatever you want to call it, I decided that I had the time to devote to council, and because I've been a businessman in town all those years, I thought that would be something that I could add to council with my experience,” Pacholok said in a Sept. 8 interview.
The one-term councillor and lifelong resident who spent his career in the construction business says he’s enjoyed working with this council and found the group to be proactive, very communicative with each other, and willing to stand behind the decisions they made as a council.
And he gave a special thanks to mayor Colleen Powell for her leadership throughout the four-year term, especially considering she was the only one that had been on council previously.
“With her knowledge and guidance at the start, with our council being a rookie council for the most part, she adapted quickly to what our needs were and we came together for the betterment of the town immediately,” Pacholok said.
It has been a term like no other with the COVID-19 pandemic, and a host of contentious issues presenting themselves for municipalities. In particular, many mandates came down from higher levels of government, meaning many new costs and procedures for municipalities, which resulted in a lot more research and reading than he ever expected going into his first term.
“I think when the provincial government got rid of red tape, part of their way of doing that was to just ship it down to the municipalities,” he said, adding the challenges will likely continue with a new municipal funding program being implemented in the near future to replace Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grants.
Challenges aside, Pacholok says he does enjoy the work, and feels his knowledge and experience have helped him find a place on council where he can always contribute to the discussion at hand. Having been in the construction industry for decades, Pacholok is very well-versed with many of the inner workings that keep municipalities functioning whether it’s the roads or sidewalks above ground, or the wires and pipes beneath.
He also notes his wealth of experience in serving the community through various other boards, committees and organizations throughout the years.
“I've been involved with probably every volunteer executive in the town at one time or another —curling, golf, I coached soccer, baseball, hockey. I was really involved because I had three sons. So, I was involved with many aspects of the community,” he said.
Over the next four years, Pacholok says one of the biggest issues will be figuring out how to deal with decreasing employment at Athabasca University and how to fill the empty offices “situated at the $100 million worth of infrastructure that’s sitting on the hill.”
It speaks to a larger issue at hand of making sure rural communities can survive, he said.
“I think my main concern is the lack of leadership going forward from the provincial and federal governments into rural communities. It's getting more and more difficult for us to survive. And so, my main concern is that we not only survive, but we thrive during the next four years.”