By Letter to the Editor on December 16, 2020.
As a concerned resident and taxpayer in Lethbridge, I was reviewing the City’s draft budget for 2021-22. In the document, I came across the recommendation to reduce or eliminate print advertising that informs citizens, changes such as rezoning applications. Here is the wording in the draft budget.
“The City of Lethbridge spent $99,123.08 in 2019 on print advertisements (newspapers). Under Section 606.1 of the Municipal Government Act, a municipality has the option to use advertising methods other than newspapers for legislated advertisements if council sees it as expedient and efficient at reaching a significant portion of the population. The elimination of newspaper advertising for rezoning would result in a direct savings of $1,000 for each rezoning application. This saving would be passed along to the applicant, as rezoning fees would be lowered from $5,500 to $4,500.”
Full disclosure: I am big fan of the Lethbridge Herald. I am a subscriber and read it regularly. I especially like reading local, provincial, national and world news because it gives me the details that other sources in the media do not provide. I read in The Herald their concerns regarding the possible loss of much-needed revenue and continued support from our City. Community organizations spoke out regarding how important The Herald is in supporting and helping them achieve their goals. I agree, no other media source has done as much over the decades to support the social fabric of our community and keep us informed.
I am not a big fan of the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent by all levels of governments regarding advertising. It must run into hundreds of millions or even billions each year. In most cases in my opinion, the advertising is more about “Look at all the great things we are doing for you” or “we have this under control.” Most media, if they are doing their jobs, will tell us what is happening, and we can decide if the various levels of governments are doing a good job.
The budget information does not indicate where or how the City would keep the citizens informed of changes. I hope they would not consider even spending a single dollar through social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Google. These mega companies make billions of dollars in revenue in Canada and pay zero income tax. In my opinion, this is unacceptable to support these companies. Our City needs to support businesses that support both our community and our tax base.