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Athabasca County council holds off on request to help send ringette team to provincials

Pembina Ringette Association had asked for financial support to send Pursuit squad to provincials in Medicine Hat March 17-19
Athabasca County councillors motioned to request town councillors to “review” their TED committee appointment.
During their March 14 meeting, Athabasca County councillors debated a request from the Pembina Ringette Association for financial assistance with sending a team to provincials this March 17-19 weekend.

ATHABASCA — Athabasca County council balked at approving a request for financial support to help send a U-16 girls ringette team to provincials based largely on the last-minute nature of the request and the fact that the team only had two Athabasca players. 

Councillors passed a motion during their March 14 meeting to accept the request from the Pembina Ringette Association (PRA) for information as an earlier motion to accept the request and provide a grant of up to $500 was withdrawn. 

Acting chief administrative officer (CAO) Christa Wilkinson said they had received a letter from the PRA just as the agenda for that meeting was being put together. 

The letter states that the Pursuit team, which consists of 11 girls from ages 13 to 16, had won all four of their playoff games and had qualified for the provincials in Medicine Hat from March 17-19, 2023. 

Wilkinson indicated she had the request added to the agenda because the next council meeting wouldn’t happen until after the provincials were held. 

She noted that under the youth assistance grant program, the county contributes up to $200 to individuals and $500 to organizations attending competitions at the provincial, national or international level. 

Successful applicants for the grants must reside or exist within county boundaries and must be age 18 or under. 

The letter mentions that the team draws players from Westlock, Barrhead, Legal and Athabasca, though Wilkinson later specified that there are only two Athabasca players on the team. 

Division 2 Coun. Natasha Kapitaniuk initially made a motion to accept the request and provide a grant to the team.  She said it wouldn’t be unusual for a team to draw from a number of communities, as there likely aren’t enough ringette players in the Athabasca area to form a team on their own. 

"They are going to provincials, and I think that’s a big deal,” she said. “I just think this is a really good way to show encouragement for getting out there and being active.” 

However, Division 8 Coun. Rob Minns said they were potentially opening up a can of worms by approving this request without requiring the association to submit a proper application. 

“We’ve got quite a few minor hockey teams that are going to be going to provincials,” he said. 

Reeve Brian Hall, who represents Division 4, agreed with Mins’ argument, noting that they had recently required a local hockey team to go through the application process with their own request for support. 

Hall also pointed out the unfairness of giving $500 to other teams comprised entirely of local players and then giving a ringette team with only two local players the same amount. 

Noting that this was an “interesting turn of events,” Kapitaniuk offered to withdraw her original motion, which council unanimously supported. She then put forward the motion to simply accept the request for information.

Kevin Berger,

Kevin Berger

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