It was a long epic, but Municipal Affairs has finally written the last stanza.
The municipal inspection into the Town of Athabasca’s affairs has been officially closed.
After three motions to disqualify councillors and two which stated they would be taken to the Court of Queen’s Bench if they did not step down; after name calling in the streets and block voting; after half of the town’s office staff resigned within a two-month period; after appointing the parks foreman as the interim CAO because council could not agree on another candidate; after a petition from the people of Athabasca actually asked the province to step in and inspect the town, after the town spent at least twice the budgeted amount in legal fees; after council forgot to pass a budget until Dec. 31 of that year – it’s finally over.
On one hand, town stories sold newspapers. It got town residents engaged in politics. The last council’s issues have become the stuff of newspaper legend, with those who covered the unfolding events waving arms while telling their versions of big fish stories (like the newsroom meeting outside the council chambers to decide who would stay, and who would cover the thousands of people flowing through Athabasca after the Fort McMurray fire forced the evacuation of its residents).
On the other hand, we have far fewer late nights trying to pound out after-council meeting articles to inform the public of another unbelievable motion or expense.
We can all sleep easier knowing that the municipal tax dollars we all pay are being tucked into things like the new pool and infrastructure rather than into lawyers’ pockets dealing with disqualification fiascoes.
We can dedicate our newsroom’s time to efforts we hope improve the community in other ways, like local sports, arts and even the other councils’ happenings.
And so, consider this what we hope to be the last editorial on this subject. As Municipal Affairs closes their book on the issue, we write our last page, too.
May our time and your time be dedicated to greater, more positive things for our communities.