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Town holds off on Wood Heights Rd. work

Plans to replace with gravel surface delayed until funds for paving can be allocated 
Wood Heights sign
Mathew Rosychuk, a resident of the Wood Heights subdivision, praised town council at the Sept. 21 regular meeting, for reversing a decision to get started replacing a cratering Wood Heights Rd. with a gravel surface until funds for repaving can be allocated.

ATHABASCA – A longstanding request by residents of the Wood Heights subdivision, on the northern edge of Athabasca’s town limits, for a functional paved road, is once again at the forefront for town council. 

Resident Mathew Rosychuk, who was first before town council in 2015 to lobby to have Wood Heights Rd., which runs north from Highway 55 from the A&W, paved. With a lot of cooperation between residents, the land developer and the town, the road was paved, and a playground was even added. 

Things have been relatively good in the small neighbourhood since then, as many professionals with young families have made the subdivision home. The isolation provided by the subdivision, which is a kilometre-or-so from the highway, provides a quiet existence away from town, but that also leaves residents with no access to the trail system from the north side of the highway and walking on the road is a safety issue with all the traffic. 

Rosychuk found himself back before council Sept. 21 with a decidedly different presentation than he had originally planned. 

Initially, he was prepared to communicate his and other residents’ disappointment in the town’s plan to remove the current road surface and replace it with a gravel top as a temporary fix to the pothole problem, then add paving to the list of requests for the 2022 budget. However, a meeting between the parties a few days earlier resulted in the town delaying the temporary fix until more details on the hard-surfacing are discussed and funding can be allocated. 

“The flavour of this presentation changed a little bit because we had such a productive meeting on the 16th that I wanted to make it a bit more about community development efforts,” Rosychuk told council via Zoom, thanking them for that decision, along with the original paving. “I can't express to you how appreciative, on behalf of residents, we are at this decision. It’s very wise and we really, really appreciate it because we fought so hard to get that surface, we're not willing to give it up.” 

It was a positive presentation overall, with Rosychuk talking a lot about the sense of community that has developed there and the potential of the area that is still to be developed. Along with the road work though, Rosychuk said there are still a few additions residents would like to see there. 

One of those being a fence on the eastern side of the playground, something he said residents, including himself, would be happy to contribute to. 

“We're basically thinking a four-foot chain link fence to keep the children in and the balls in when people are playing soccer and that sort of thing might be beneficial. This is also something that maybe the community members like to chip in and help with their time, in order to put up, if that's an option. I would be there to help wrap that fence,” he said. 

The other concern was for pedestrian access to the rest of town, which is lacking, as the Rotary Trail is on the south side of Highway 55, which is quite difficult to cross safely. 

Coun. Rob Balay, who is also a Rotarian, said he would be happy to invite Rosychuk to give a presentation on expanding the trail to Rotarians at a future meeting. 

“We're always looking for new projects so I extended an invitation to him to come and present in one of our upcoming meetings because I think there would be interest to collaborate on that, especially if you're ever able to form a community group that could access grant funds as well,” he said. 

Rosychuk also said the neighbourhood is considering forming a community league to represent residents’ interests, something mayor Colleen Powell said she would love to see throughout the whole community, as it would help keep the lines of communication open between the town and the different areas that make it up.

About the Author: Chris Zwick

Athabasca Advocate editor
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