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Renaming raw water intake facility doesn’t fly for Boyle council

Commission board should be making decisions, not member councils
Intake naming (1)
The site of the Aspen Regional Water Services Commission’s raw water intake, currently named after Athabasca’s John M. Stychin, could soon be renamed, but Boyle village council would prefer a more generic name for the building. 

BOYLE – A bone of contention has arisen between the three municipal members of the Aspen Regional Water Services Commission, as they consider re-naming the former water treatment plant that now acts as the raw water intake system. 

Village of Boyle councillors reviewed an addition to their Sept. 15 meeting agenda regarding discussions that had been held at previous water commission meetings about the name of the building, which currently bears the moniker of John M. Stychin, who was a well-known member of the Athabasca community and town councillor for six years, before he passed in 1986. 

The potential name change has been discussed in different capacities for several months, and the Boyle members on the commission — mayor Colin Derko and Coun. Pat Ferguson — have been firm in their opinion that as a regional facility, the building should bear a more generic name. 

“The commission requested that some more information be sent out to the respective member councils, and then to send back a letter with recommendations for how their administration should make a motion as to whether or not they should be naming water commission facilities,” CAO Warren Griffin told council, adding that putting a Boyle-specific name on a regional facility wouldn’t likely go over very well. 

Derko said he was a “little offended” by the request as he was under the impression that as municipal representatives on the commission, he and Ferguson were making decisions on behalf of their council. 

“Your council puts you there to make a decision,” he said. "So, we came back and we said that when it came to us, we said that we had the discussion, and that we weren't in favour of it. That's the long and short of it.” 

Coun. Shelby Kiteley noted she had never been to a water commission meeting before, and she didn’t feel she should be making decisions the board should be responsible for. 

“They didn't like the way the wind was blowing and could see that the vote was going to go wrong and the only other way around that is unfortunately someone else in the majority of the other way would have to force the issue and force a vote,” said Griffin. 

Derko clarified there is certainly no ill will toward John Stychin or his family, but the fact remains it is a regional facility now, and its name should reflect that. 

Council passed a motion, as requested, to clarify its position on the matter, but Derko said he would be going into the next water commission meeting and requesting a vote that day, saying the issue had been unnecessarily politicized. 


On Sept. 21, at the Town of Athabasca's regular meeting, councillors reviewed the same letter from Aspen Regional Water Services Commission manager Jamie Giberson regarding the renaming of the John M. Stychin Water Treatment Plant. 

The commission, made up of members from the town, Athabasca County and Village of Boyle, has been discussing a name change since earlier this summer, with the town suggesting the name remain on the building, which is now the site of the raw water intake system that provides river water to the new water treatment plant on Wood Heights Road, and calling it the John M. Stychin Water Facility. 

“Nobody wants to do this except us,” said mayor Colleen Powell, adding she was “a little annoyed” by the letter. “Simply saying, we are not going to put names on any buildings would have been sufficient.” 

A rarely-seen plaque recognizing Stychin, who was a town councillor for six years, until his passing in 1986, is still located inside the building, and council decided to concede having the name on the building, and to leave the naming to the commission, but requested the plaque be moved to the outside of the building. 

“If we put that on the outside, then possibly we could change the name and still save face by saying that in our minds. It's the John Stychin facility,” said Coun. Dave Pacholok. 


About the Author: Chris Zwick

Athabasca Advocate editor
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