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Three questions for town council candidates

Two candidates for mayor's seat and nine others seek six council seats
wes - election guide

ATHABASCA - The Town and Country sent out a request to all the candidates for the Town of Athabasca and Athabasca County last week, asking them to concisely answer these three questions. Answers appear as they were received, in the order they were received. 

Question #1: In recent months both the Town of Athabasca and Athabasca County councils have approved contributions of $7,500 each towards the effort to lobby high-level government officials regarding an apparent exodus of Athabasca University employees from the community in the last several years. If you are elected to council, how would you approach a request to your municipality for a further contribution to continue the lobby effort? 

Question #2: Are you vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus? Why or why not? 

Question #3: The Multiplex cost many millions of dollars to build and is something taxpayers will be paying off for decades to come. With lower revenue than expected due to the pandemic, please share how you would increase usage by individuals and groups to help the facility reach its full potential and increase revenues?


Dave Pacholok

Dave Pacholok web

#1. I was in support of our town councils' monetary contribution and I feel the person we have leading the lobbying is going to produce results. I feel this was a one time situation and would only be in favor of investing further monies if there was a successful outcome and another request was to enhance an already positive solution.  

#2. I have been double vaccinated for many months. My reason is because it is the right thing to do to save lives and return life back to as normal as possible. 

#3. I feel council now have a very capable and progressive administrative staff in place. Good communication with user groups and the general public will enhance greater usage. The unknown factor is how much longer covid will limit the facility.


Loretta Prosser

Loretta Prosser

#1. I do not feel this question can be fully answered correctly until we are know who the new president will be and what their near future plans are. 

#2. I am vaccinated for my family. I have a mother in long term care and a son with auto immune issues, I was vaccinated for my family and its a side bonus now that passports are required everwhere.  

#3. I would like to form a Athabasca Tourism committee, the committee would have business owners and council discussing new ways to bring tournaments and events such as Concerts, Hockey, Curling, Baseball and Golf, the Athabasca Golf course is rated #4 in Alberta! we should be capitalizing on that and everything Athabasca has to offer. 


Edith Yuill

Edie Yuill

#1. It is a complex issue that will require a lot of brainstorming. I want to keep staff physically at the University and living in our community but I would also question what imminent results have been secured by the $15,000.00 already provided? I would also question how much more money would be needed and exactly what that money would be used for? I am a results based person, so if I see no concrete results being accomplished, then I would not necessarily be in favour of throwing additional money toward the same problem. I believe every citizen and business owner should get on board with their letter/email/phone campaign so the government is inundated with our community's concern. The templates can be found on the Keep Athabasca in Athabasca University Facebook page. 

#2. Absolutely I am double vaccinated against COVID-19. I believe in science and I believe in historical vaccinations in Canada and the world that have stopped various other medical viruses such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, etc. I also want to keep my family and friends safe. 

#3. Once again this is a complex issue due mainly to COVID-19 and the government's previous and current lock downs and regulations. Updating the Town website so it mentions the new facility would be a start. Advertising on Facebook and the updated website would be helpful. Showing photos of the beautiful facility might encourage more families to attend, especially if we advertise outside of the Athabasca area. Many people travel long distances for quality recreational opportunities so perhaps staff could check out various tournaments, exhibitions that have taken place in other localities and offer our facilities. Everything has to be attended within AHS guidelines these days, which makes it difficult but with reduced patrons and proof of vaccination, we should be able to get more participants and renters, especially over the winter season. 


Rob Balay

202109 Rob Balay_WEB

#1. The potential loss of future AU jobs in our community will have a huge economic and social impact on our community. As far as supporting further contributions to the community lobby effort, I would first have to see what results have been achieved and the impact those lobby efforts have had to date. As well, what the likely hood of success of the strategy is going forward. If the answer is yes to those questions, I would consider a further contribution. 

#2. Yes, I am double vaccinated. Vaccines have saved more lives in Canada than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years. Covid 19 vaccines have proven to provide strong protection and dramatically reduces our chances of being hospitalized and having severe outcomes. This helps protect our health system from becoming overwhelmed. 

#3. Once public confidence is back after Covid, I would like to see us do a series of membership drives to increase usage with creating incentives to entice more usage. Also bring back events like we have had in the past like concerts with performers like the Nitty Gritty dirt band, Terry Clark, Travis Twit and others. That being said I think we need to look at what we can further do on the expense side. With the expected increases in energy costs, and carbon targets that we will be required to meet, we need to start investing in technologies that can make us energy net zero. This has the potential to save us not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next 30 years but millions of dollars. 


Roger Morrill

Roger Morrill web

#1. I believe one of the primary roles of municipally elected officials is to lobby federal and provincially elected representatives. I would have to be convinced using tax dollars to hire a lobbyist would be more effective than what we could do as Council in partnership with Athabasca County. Further, if elected, I would immediately request a joint meeting between both councils, the AU board and interim president, to discuss AU's future.   

#2. I do not wish to disclose my personal medical information, but suffice to say, I acknowledge that the vaccine is a very important tool to control the Covid-19 virus. 

#3. The Multiplex was paid off within 5 years of construction during my previous time on Council. The new pool was to be paid within 20 years. That said, the Multiplex was built for the future with allowances for community growth, but with a town population of under 3000 today, there is only so much that user groups and individuals can make use of. Community input, improved marketing and seeing what is working in other communities has merit. Under the current circumstance, it is more effective to find ways to control expenses and increase efficiencies. 


Sara Graling 

Sara Graling

#1. I want to recognize the considerable local efforts in presenting information about the importance of AU as a contributor to our social and economic capital and I value AU in my community. I would not vote to support any additional municipal funds being spent on lobbying high-level government officials. Municipal officials should be working to bring attention to provincial representatives and departments regarding the important contribution AU makes to our area. I would also encourage residents to reach out to AU's board of governors and our MLA to express their thoughts on the issue. Local representation on the board of governors is crucial. I believe AU is following a strategy that aligns with their education delivery model and that for many years the institution has grappled with provincial government budgets that may have encouraged the virtual shift.  

#2. I am vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. I believe in the scientific evidence and I trust the medical community's guidance. I think we have a shared responsibility to protect those that are not able to receive the vaccine and do everything we can to minimize the strain on our health care system.    

 #3. I do not expect the Multiplex to generate sufficient revenues to fully cover the cost of operating the facility as the Multiplex serves important health and social functions in the region that contribute to a community's wellbeing. I support continued participation in the Municipal Energy Manager Program to ensure energy savings and efficiency strategies are developed and pursued in operating and upgrading the facility as identified. From a revenue perspective, I look forward to a time when concerts, sporting and cultural events can be arranged in the venue again. We can also encourage community organizations to consider hosting local/district conferences that can utilize the facility, showcase our unique downtown business attractions and take the opportunity to explore the natural beauty in this region. 


Michael Borody

Mike Borody web

#1. Hiring a lobbyist was essential for the community to leave no stone unturned to try and reverse the near-virtual plan. It is my understanding from following the groups reports that as an ad-hoc committee, the lobbyist was hired to do a job and when the job is done October 21 the contract is over. Whatever the result is, they were very clear the lobbyist was hired for that time frame only. I do not expect the well respected individuals who make up that group to not keep their word. I support keeping the University in Athabasca. 

#2. I am not vaccinated. The weigh of the reasons why and why not continue to be heavy on my mind. 

#3. The multiplex has great potential but one needs to spend money to make money. Hiring more staff would increase employment opportunities and enable 2 great things. #1: Keep the arena ice in year round. Hocket families travel to Lac La Biche and St. Albert to play in the off season, practice and attend camps.  We could be hosting camps and bringing tourism here on that note alone, never mind keeping our own residents spending their money here instead of somewhere else. #2- 24 hour gym access.  Memberships would go up if people could actually access the gym.  Boyle has a 24hr gym with camera security and punch code access.  Again, our own residents have been going to Boyle and paying their fees there because our own gym is not accessible for all hours. memberships are key and people need a facility to work for them to want to pay a membership. 


Jon LeMessurier

20210805 Jon LeMessurier_SUB_WEB

#1. Athabasca University is a strong contributor to the life blood of this community and a major employer. Further loss of a significant number of jobs would be devastating to Athabasca and the surrounding region. Therefore, I believe we need to support the Keep Athabasca in Athabasca University Committee as much as we can. If they approached council for further financial support, I would first ask what this contribution would be used for and what progress was made following our first input. If I feel that the contributions are making progress in achieving the goals, then I would be open to discussing further support to continue this important effort. 

#2. Yes, I made the choice to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Before the vaccines came out, I ended up testing positive for Covid-19, so I am aware of how serious it can be. I got the vaccine as soon as I could to protect myself, my family and my community. I want to be a part of the solution so we can get back to some sort of a normalcy. 

#3. We should be proud to have an amazing complex such as the multiplex. I have a variety of ideas to share with the multiplex manager and board to help use cost friendly ways to make our multiplex as busy as possible. It has the potential to be a main hub for all ages and we should market and promote this facility to get as much usage as possible. 


Rena Zatorski

Rena Zatorski

#1. My first approach in regards to putting in a request to further contribute towards lobby efforts would be to get the facts. There is an enormous amount of information to understand and process, and this is a very complex and politically driven issue. I need to be clear as to how much influence the Town of Athabaska, the county of Athabasca, special interest lobby groups and community members have against what may or may not be a futile result. I will be openly objective and try understand however being one of six votes is challenging, justifying further contribution of taxpayer money would require 100% participation of town, county, and to a degree taxpayers. Within that commitment should come limitations and accountability of allocated funds. I think it would be sensible and financially responsible to see if the first $15,000 commitment was or was not spent on futile efforts. 

#2. Working in the personal service industry for 18 years has taught me so much about human condition, the need for confidentiality and the desire for trust. I hold myself to a high standard of not just being exceptionally private about other people's affairs and business, but my level of commitment to public safety. Safety and protection is not a new concept. I have always and will continue to do my part to the very best of my ability to protect myself, my family, my clients and my community. 

#3. I would hope that in the past two years during the pandemic that a multitude of ideas have been considered. Many individuals as well as user groups were affected and out of that alone should have come some constructive ideas. Brainstorming is great. Forming groups and committees is great. Recruiting volunteers to implement ideas is great. Pleading and justifying the need for assistance is great, but none of these concepts get to the root of the problem for lack of usership. Once I am privy to information and ideas that have already been brought forth, I can then make educated, insightful and realistic comments and decisions. It is crucial to fully understand. Unfortunately, with the facility being closed for much of covid, ideas could not be put into action. I think it will be challenging as usership is affected by many factors. Family income, community needs, desire, availability ... many reasons that may be out of, truthfully, anyone's control. As I fully experienced with my client base as the last two years unfolded, people are unsure, afraid and confused. Being in an elected position does not make a person immune to feeling these same effects. I feel as though I have the strength, courage and compassion to work and collaborate with others to get through the next four years.


Ida Edwards

Ida Edwards web



#3. The revenue generated by the Multiplex is used to offset the costs to run it. The pandemic led to shut downs and restricted use. This has caused less revenue generated which also leads to lower operational costs. 

The foundation of the multiplex is the community that built it and is invested in it. There are several non profit sports groups that utilize the arena and the field house. Fundraising is a big deal for these groups to offset their costs to use the facility. Supporting these groups by listening to their needs and facilitating the new covid practices is paramount. Co-creation of fundraising events at the multiplex will help support the groups and the facility.  

Another important user group of individuals are the personal trainers who have created a culture of wellness and fitness for people looking to improve their health and physical fitness.  There are specific needs with these users and good communication is needed to encourage growth and development in the area of personal fitness. This is often a one on one situation which is quite different from the sports groups that come in. This is an important service group and raises the profile of wellness and fitness within the community. Reviewing the best practices in other recreational facilities and listening to the challenges faced by the trainers will help to develop better user schedules. 

General public access and times are scheduled around user groups. The general public needs to know that they are welcome. Winter programming for walkers and swimmers along with challenge events with distances are needed. The scheduling of multiple user groups and accommodating the public drop ins will be up to management with a good working relationship with the ARMS Board. 

The facility is open for community events and requires special attention now.  Understanding the new health restrictions and communicating to the public the level of Multiplex care and attention to these details critical for public perception.   

Training and development of boards is important to support the volunteers who serve.  Getting trainers in to facilitate board training and assisting in board governance will help strengthen the non- profts by sharing best practices and new ideas. It is important to support the people who are involved in these groups as they are foundational user groups in the facility. 


Rob Woito

Rob Woito

Did not respond.