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Citizens have their say

Athabasca town council held a public hearing last Tuesday at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, for the purpose of discussing the possibility of installing streetlights along the west entrance to Hees Estates.

Athabasca town council held a public hearing last Tuesday at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex, for the purpose of discussing the possibility of installing streetlights along the west entrance to Hees Estates.

But with approximately 50 of the subdivision’s 64 homes represented, the meeting wound up moving in many different directions.

Council proposed six lights, spread out along the entrance, and at the end of the meeting a vote was taken.

When Mayor Roger Morrill asked Hees Estates’ residents to vote on six lights, the majority of people didn’t want them. When Morrill asked about three lights, more people said yes than no, but it still wasn’t a happy medium.

“If go two, we’re going to have it,” joked Morrill.

Most of the residents who were against the streetlights were because they would be shining in their backyards.

One woman pointed out that it was light until midnight in the summer, and they shouldn’t need them because walkers and bikers should be out before it gets dark.

All six light posts carried a total estimated cost of $23,000, with a $17.99 cost per month per post to operate.

The rezoning of the subdivision was a main issue brought up by residents.

Many residents didn’t know the area had been rezoned, and were shocked to find they were no longer a R1A area, but were changed to R2 status.

Many residents were not pleased with the lack of communication council had with residents, and they stated that even though council advertised in the paper or on radio, they wanted door-to-door notification.

One woman told Morrill it was a shady way of doing business.

What the rezoning meant was that the area was no longer only for single-family dwellings, and would allow people to have rental properties and duplexes.

The whole process of rezoning took over a year with multiple consultations, which only three residents attended.

“Look at the turn out tonight,” a resident said. “It got to the door.”

Morrill stated that communication goes both ways, and only a couple of people had contacted him from Hees Estates.

Residents said they want the ads in the Athabasca Advocate to be in plain English, so they do not have to figure out whether something affects them as residents or not.

The residents would also like notices to be mailed out with their water bills every two months.

To pave the east entrance to Hees Estates, known as the old Colinton Highway, would cost approximately $1.5 million because of the water running beneath the road.

The problem with paving the road is the cost, and that it will allow drivers to speed more than they already do.

To pave the highway, it would take several experts to figure out a safe way to keep the road in good shape for years to come.

The other option with speeding in the area would be to install speed bumps.

One concerned citizen stated that when he cuts his grass, he also cuts the sidewalk because of the weeds growing between cracks.

One man asked what his tax dollars were being spent on, since Hees Estates is not being maintained.

CAO Doug Topinka said he would create a list of the tax breakdown, and distribute it to residents.

On Feb. 7, a water main broke in one lady’s yard, but she had not heard from the town as to when they were going to fix the damage the break caused.

“This was the second break in two years,” she said. “Everything is such a mess.”

Topinka assured her that a concrete professional would be fixing the sidewalk, and a landscaper would be by to fix the grass.

A leaning light post is also an issue. Concerned residents are waiting for the day it will fall over, and take out the mailboxes located beside it.

The issue of the skating rink not being flooded in the winter also arose. Since there is a key needed to flood the rink, residents haven’t been able to take control of the situation.

The residents said they would happily flood the rink if they were given the key.

“It doesn’t look like a very nice estate,” one woman said. “It used to be a community that was looked after.”

The roads entering and leaving Hees Estates are walked and biked on a regular basis, and the residents would like to see a trail installed to eliminate the dangers of pedestrians.

Most residents who want to teach their kids to ride bikes go elsewhere because there is too much traffic, and Hees Estates is built on a hill. Having a bike/walking path would allow residents to have a safe place to walk.

The trail would link Hees Estates with downtown and would make the estate more a part of town.

Barbara Bell also brought up the issue of the hill slipping behind her unlivable home.

Morrill read a written statement and said that since the issue was before the courts, he could not comment on the issue.

“It could be 10 years before it goes to court,” Bell said.

Bell then pointed her finger at Topinka and said, “ You should be responsible for it.” She then demanded for Topinka’s resignation.

The issue with the slipping hill is that Bell didn’t know about it when she bought the house. A retaining wall was approved by the town, but wasn’t keeping the hill from slipping.

Bell moved out of the home when it became unsafe because the house was shifting.