January 20th, 2018

Working to boost inclusion

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 13, 2017.

Time change issue, condo consultations among legislature business

There were so many activities this past month it is impossible to report on all, but as you know, Lethbridge is a busy place these days.

Education Minister David Eggen was here this month to meet with groups from the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society, discussing racism, inclusion and diversity, as part of our government’s anti-racism work. The minister has been travelling around the province speaking with community groups, individuals and other stakeholders about how best to tackle this issue in Alberta. Minister Eggen will be delivering his report to the premier later this fall, including recommendations on how the government can work with local communities on this matter and an inter-jurisdictional scan of work already being done across Canada. We know our strength is in our diversity, our sense of inclusion and commitment to helping one another. Together, we’ll continue to build a successful province and make life better for Albertans regardless of their faith, skin colour or immigration status.

Sept. 18 the sod was finally turned for the Cavendish Farm Food Processing Plant. Premier Rachel Notley, Robert Irving from Cavendish Farms and several other dignitaries were on site for this exciting morning. This project will add about 400 construction jobs during that stage and permanently strengthen our local economy once it’s fully functioning. Following this, myself and several of my ministerial colleagues moved a little south to throw the switch on the largest array of solar panels in Southern Alberta at Flexhopper Plastics with their CEO Bill Spenceley. It was such an exciting day and we look forward to the future with these projects here.

In September I also attended several meetings surrounding Bill 203, the Alberta Standard Time Act. We heard from many of you at the consultation held here and I want to thank those who gave their input both in person and online about this issue. After the consultation wrapped up, our sub-committee reviewed all of the feedback and presented the findings and our recommendation to the committee. Ultimately, it was recommended that we not proceed with the bill at the present time, and a motion was passed to engage our provincial and American neighbours in discussion about ending time change twice a year. We know several other jurisdictions are all considering such legislation and as a result, taking such action would be much more fluid if it were to happen simultaneously. We’re working to make life better and more efficient for Albertans, and proceeding unilaterally on this was ultimately not going to help achieve that goal.

I spent the last weekend of September with the Lethbridge Sport Council and Can-Am Police and Fire Games organizing committees. We toured facilities in Lethbridge and surrounding areas as one of the finalists to host the 2022 Games. During their visit, we were able to showcase not only our incredible venues and their knowledgeable staff but the incredible geography surrounding our home, our community spirit, camaraderie and several cultural events – including Art Days and Oktoberfest – to the committee. A personal highlight for me was the stop at Waterton National Park, where the committee saw firsthand the devastation of the recent wildfire. It was a somber moment but it was beautiful to see the regrowth which has already begun, and to speak with a member of the Cardston County fire crew, who shared his personal experience with the blaze. We are so fortunate to have these heroes in our midst, I am so thankful to each and every one of them.

To everyone who participated in the tour as a spectator or a guide, you did Lethbridge proud – thank you! Thank you, Lethbridge Sport Council, as well.

Condo consultations also took place throughout the summer and yesterday new improvements were announced. We know a new home is the largest purchase most Albertans will make, and we’re working to better protect that investment. These include things like giving new-home buyers more information from developers at point of sale, including confirmed move-in date; how to take action if unit received is not what was purchased or not finished on time; increased financial penalties for offences; rules to better protect homebuyers’ deposit money and new inspection and enforcement powers so we can ensure developers are following the rules. These will come into effect in January and April 2018 and while a lot of work has been done, there is still more to do. We want to make day-to-day condo living easier for Albertans, so please take part in the next phase at condo.alberta.ca, until Nov. 10. For a full list of the announced improvements, visit http://www.alberta.ca/condominium-consultation.

As fall and chillier weather approaches there are still a number of things to do here. Be sure to check out Taste of Nigeria on Oct. 27 and a ton of other community events at http://www.saea.ca/saea-events. As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact my office, located at 543 13 St. S., by emailing lethbridge.east@assembly.ab.ca or by phone at 403-320-1011.

Maria Fitzpatrick is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge East. Her column appears monthly.

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