Skip to content

THEY SAID IT: Rotary donation sparks debate in county chambers

A donation of gravel caused tension between councillors around the optics of conflicts of interest
Athabasca County councillor Tracy Holland voiced concerns over optics of conflicts of interest during debate over a donation to the Rotary Celebrity Dinner and Auction April 9. Comments on councillors personal contributions to the event sparked an exchange that resulted in a point of order called.

ATHABASCA — A motion to donate a load of gravel to the upcoming Celebrity Dinner and Auction, put on by the Athabasca Rotary Club, was the source of — at times heated — debate in council chambers April 9, which resulted in a tense exchange and a point of order called. 

A livestream recording on the meeting can be viewed online on Athabasca County’s YouTube page (Regular Council Meeting Live Stream - April 9th 2024 ( Discussion around the donation begins at timestamp 20:22. Here is an excerpt preceding the vote on accepting the item as information.

HOLLAND: When we’re looking at situations like this, when we have such strong representation from Rotary at the table, it also brings an element of optics, that conflict that’s there, and it’s optics, but it’s there — 

HALL: Can you define that, please?

HOLLAND: Having a strong representation at this table — 

HALL: Which are?

HOLLAND: with Rotary members and voting on Rotary’s initiatives. We also are concerned about the Rotary initiative, one of the items that is here (as a project to receive funds from the event) is a helipad that we haven’t got all the information on, we don’t know for sure what’s going on with that — 

HALL: Can we keep it focused to the motion, please?

HOLLAND: I am keeping focused to the motion in conversation with regards to supporting our non-profits and what they do. We also have to remember that this council was very concerned with regards to dropping some boulders to help out the trails, to protect our own infrastructure. So we have these things that, we can do it sometimes here, we can do it sometimes here, but it’s not consistent, and I really struggle. Like I say, setting a precedent of such a high-value for a donation that’s coming through, that we haven’t really done in the past.

HOLLAND: Again, we have the policy 6275 that we can offer county merchandise as swag to go forward with the silent auction, all of those things. But we have to remember, we have members here that have already done sponsorships, so of course there’s going to be — 

HALL: As a point of reference, that’s irrelevant.

HOLLAND: Not really.


CROMWELL: Point of order, around the table conversations — 

HALL: Whoa whoa …  hey … Councillor Cromwell, enough. On the adoption of the motion to receive as information …

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks