ATHABASCA — The Athabasca Regional Multiplex (ARM) will remain under the regional exemption program (REP) for the foreseeable future.
At the ARM society meeting Jan. 17 chair, chair Dave Pacholok, who represents the Town of Athabasca on the six-member board, noted there have been six letters from residents supporting REP and one asking for the one-third capacity option but the solo letter from Amber Schmidt did ask a lot of questions, some of which could be answered by the society members and some which should be directed to Alberta Health Services, they said.
“According to Rhonda (Alix, ARM facility director), we’re getting more and more people utilizing the facility, so I think that’s a moot point,” Pacholok said in response to Schmidt’s question asking if memberships or sponsorships have declined.
Alix added no one has asked to be removed as a sponsor either.
“The sponsorships, they haven't changed because those we bill out in the summertime and so that was before the exemption program,” she said. “And none of them have come and said, ‘I want my money back,’ or anything like that.”
Schmidt asked how “other recreational facilities around the province” can use the one-third capacity option when the ARM uses REP, but never named which facilities use the alternative.
“How is it that other facilities that are around the province able to do it, but we’re not,” said ARMS director Rob Balay, who is also the mayor of the Town of Athabasca. “That’s a choice we made; I don’t think we need to answer that. That’s her opinion and for minor hockey, every facility they go to is on the REP.”
Alix pointed out Bonnyville switched to the REP after Christmas, as did the Village of Boyle.
“I don't know what's changed between the last time we did this and now other than the fact that COVID is even worse,” said Balay. “So, that's the biggest factor making the decision.”
Schmidt also wanted to know how much revenue the bar upstairs generated, which Pacholok said isn’t relevant as it is manned by Multiplex staff, and she directed healthcare-related questions to director Jon LeMessurier, a town councillor, who works in healthcare, but not at the hospital.
“(Question) Number #6 basically is a comment for Alberta Health, it's not for us. ’Provide the number of hospitalizations now in Athabasca and when the town experienced the outbreak, what exactly is the local concern,’” said Pacholok. “That's got nothing to do with Multiplex, that's got to do with the province in general.”
Balay noted most of the current user groups like curling, minor hockey and the Farmers’ Market will be done by the end of March, and he would consider moving to the one-third capacity option at that time when most events would be outside.
“I make a motion to revisit the REP program Apr. 1, 2022, pending any changes by the government,” said vice-chair Natasha Kapitaniuk, an Athabasca County councillor.
The motion was upheld by a vote of 5-1 with secretary-treasurer and Athabasca County Coun. Ashtin Anderson voting against. Pacholok and Alix will also respond to Schmidt’s letter.