June 16th, 2024

Downtown businesses deserve better


By Lethbridge Herald on December 7, 2022.

Mayor Hyggen:

Can you please review the photo attached and provide some direction on what else our business (Lethbridge Herald) has to do to address the ongoing vandalism, setting of fires against our building, our homeless people leaving their drug paraphernalia, fecal matter, urine and other “garbage” that we are left to deal with. 

It puts our staff, customers and the public that walk by our location in an unsafe position.

When our staff have to clean up this ongoing (daily!) mess or suggest that these people move on, they are at risk. 

And the homeless are likely to take their mess or vandalism to another downtown business for them to have to deal with. 

We have just spent over $3,000 (plus help from a city grant) to install roll shutters on two of our four entrances. While that has improved the situation at those two locations, they are just using our other entrance(s) to live/party in during the night. 

Is it a realistic expectation that downtown businesses should be the ones that continue to bear this burden?

Every downtown business is already challenged by high annual property taxes plus the additional downtown levy each year – and nothing changes with the mess we are forced to deal with, virtually every day. 

I would appreciate some response from your office as downtown businesses deserve better than this. 

Ryan McAdams

Group publisher

Alberta Newspaper Group LP

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Dennis Bremner

There are numerous hidden battles going on within this city most with personal agenda’s driving them.
First and foremost you have the Provincial Government (whether NDP or UCP) still stuck in the 1960s when it comes to the Homeless.
The Homeless have been redefined by the Religious so that it includes truly homeless people, drug addicts who use their rent money to support their habit, and alcoholics that do the same. Lastly the mentally challenged are also included in this group because AHS or Health Services are not doing their job. How do I know? Pretty easy, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Dementia are all medically categorized diseases. Have a Senior “escape” from his prison and we are doing “Silver Alerts” on the phone like he is a escaped convict. As soon as we find the “Loco Senior”, its back to prison for you bucko!! But a Drug Addict or Alcoholic that can’t remember the first letter of the Alphabet is allowed to wander free as a bird. Stupid damned Seniors, lock em up, right? Thats why I know Alberta Health isn’t doing their job!? Let the Residents live with it, and we will pop in periodically and tell them what they are doing wrong?
I digress…..
So the moment a Religious Group announces they want to house the homeless, the reaction is by the general public, NOT IN MY BACKYARD, you are not! This is for good reason because the term Homeless is so broad based and all encompassing (created by the same group) that the general public does not know which group they refer too.
So if I announce that I want to rezone XYZ apartments to house the homeless panic ensues because the Religious/City are not being honest in whom they intend to house. Hence the reason when seeing rezoning and it says “unrestricted” in the descriptor, imaginations go wild. So we need better communications out of the city.
Secondly, dry means dry, unless of course it doesn’t? When you get groups like the Religious based Mustard Seed saying they want to run a dry shelter and in the same breath says to ensure they keep their property clean they intend to do a needle sweep every morning. It tells you someone is not being truthful.
So their is no trust between the Religious Righteous of Lethbridge and Businesses and for very good reason! The SSIG was a prime example of the poorest contribution to a problem that I personally have ever seen. They went in with an agenda, monopolized the vote, and came out with the same agenda.
The CSD which is part of city hall, “appeared” to do more than just take notes at the SSIG meeting and “appeared” to be helping the SSIG point themselves in the direction they settled on. So you have those that help the “homeless” working with City officials who “appear” to want what the Religious want and that is to serve those that need help within the downtown.
So what do we have?
Well we have an appearance of an agenda from City Hall Public Servants. We have “serve them where they are” from the Religious who then swallow up cheap real estate and set up mini churches in our downtown. You then have the woke that suggests “everyone should have a home” no matter what the situation and ignore statistical evidence that would say otherwise. ie. 50% of their “defined homeless” need to be rehomed after 90 Days. which means they were booted out for damaging what was given to them free or they just want to live on the street! The other statistical evidence they wish to ignore is that 67% of the Addicts die in a “home” where they are by themselves. So that means that they would for example tolerate the loss of 64 people out of the 88 that have died in Lethbridge over the last 12 months because they get to say “well we at least got him/her a home” before they died. Or Joe blow passed away peacefully in his home?
Second last point, too show you just how much they care about the “homeless” they have never asked for or produced an impact study on Ratepayers and businesses! Why? because they do not care what the impact is on you. God wants them to serve the “Homeless” where they choose to be, not where the Ratepayer who supports their free living lifestyle want them.
So whom do you blame? Well you could start with 15 months of useless meetings that resulted in only one study of where to put these people and that was the 19 Acres of Burnside, or, as you may know it, train tracks and Stafford to 5th and Stafford. The next group I would name would be the Provincial Addictions Minister and staff who still think its a “swell” idea to kill downtowns no matter what Party is in Charge. You can see this demonstrated daily because Shannon Phillips who represents you says absolutely ZERO. Myashiro who is running for East Side Rep NDP thinks the 42 High Acuity facility that the Province wants to install across the street from the Bakery and next to the Truck Shop on Safford is a Magnificently great idea and you get Neudorf that is just following along in hopes it does not ruin his career, At this point, the only blame for Council and Mayor is as the Province forces the issue, they are not rebelling or explaining the situation well enough that the Province and our representatives change things.
Have you spoken with Ms Phillips who desperately wants to remain under the sheets on this topic? Better to come in as the new NDP gov (they hope) next summer and say it was the UCP that destroyed our downtown then actually stand up for Business and ask what the heck is going on, NOW!
Last Point- you can also blame your fellow businesses. While trying to motivate the business community into fighting back I found a bunch of spineless business owners who are absolutely convinced that if they speak up CSD will be so offended that they will sic bylaws officers on them and make their life miserable! So you have a business community who is terrified of their own employees, you have business Leaders ie Chamber and BRZ that say nothing to support you. You have conflicts between the Chamber and the Reconciliation Committee who believe that our downtown is fair game for an ever increasing “homeless population” and you have the bleeding hearts supplying more and more reasons to keep them in the downtown. You should also blame yourself Mr McAdams, your paper avoids the issue like the plague. Your paper probably needs major medically surgery to remove the pickets from your business butt from fence straddling for so long!
I have seen this evolve so many times its old music to me. I know what is next if this ship is not turned and turned quickly. We have about 450 people in Lethbridge that fit the Religious definition of “Homeless”. Of those 450 CSD says 130-150 are homeless. I have no idea what CSD calls the other 320, I call them Drug Addicts and Alcoholics.
If we start housing the other 320 in our downtown then I will predict that the 320 number will be 605 by the fall of 2025 and much like Bergen Norway, we will have to do the “thinking outside the box, we should be doing today, in 3 years from now or completely lose our downtown. What’s wonderful about that is by then you will have enjoyed a 22% compounded rise in your taxes and, you get all this thrown in for FREE!
Oh, and a sidebar? The Churches don’t pay taxes and neither do the homeless!

I do hope your business survives. No one has done any studies to determine if it will or what the damage will be so there is no way to determine that. When you are too busy destroying the downtown, you have no time for such nonsense!

Signed Doomsday Dennis
a name I will remind Shannon Phillips and her Mother , (Shannon’s mother gave it to me) in 3 years from now
https://lethccc.com

Would you like to see where we are today? I title this diagram “What’s Left”
https://lethccc.com/impact.html
The 13th of December the City is entertaining a rezoning of Halmrest Seniors Residence and Castle Apartments. This would be a great place to start if you are concerned about your downtown and where we are headed. I will be there and have a speaking part. Time to get involved Lethbridge or its over!
My next letter will be entitled “How to make friends and influence people”

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
Citi Zen

Why not address the problem, rather than continuing to enable this behavior? We all know what the real problem is, but no one has the initiative to do anything constructive about it.

Lethrez

Also a question for the Mayor, now that the encampment has been cleared out because of winter weather, what systems are being determined and put in place now to prevent all of that starting up again in the spring?

It seems that this is the window of opportunity to take measures to bar/ban/block any and all inhabitation from creeping and back in there (and elsewhere), so we aren’t back square one with yet another year of zero progress on this devastation to our city.

Dennis Bremner

I am not answering for the Mayor. If the Religious get their way, they will have created a coup in Lethbridge. The intent is to load up the area that is known as burnside. Train Tracks at Stafford to 5th and Stafford.
The SSIG (Social Services Integration Group) 14-16 Non Profits with Non Profit chairs, and 2-3 citizens started the ball rolling. After 15 months of studying nothing but the acerage above, they tasked a Consultant who produced a study. The study stated it was to be a compound, fenced or otherwise, security 24/7 to keep the place non-criminal. The study never went so far as to what happens when they release them to the downtown.
No need for that because as long as the “Service providers and “homeless” were safe” you are fair game.
Province and Service Providers are really hoping Lethbridge Citizens stay quiet because they are to afraid of speaking up to protect their own city, I thought they would lose that bet, but they are winning! Go Figure?
I do not own property downtown, I do not have a business, I have no investments downtown. I have NO conflict of interest. Trying to save someone from themselves when they won’t even fight for themselves is a tough row to hoe…I am almost done and if it becomes another Bergen, so be it! I will give it one more College Try.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
Dennis Bremner

Wow, I mean wow, Lethbridge Herald must have finally decided to stop straddling the fence, good on you Mr McAdams!

Learjet

Dear Editor,
I sincerely sympathize with your situation at the venerable institution known and loved by Lethbridgians for generations, that being, the Herald. What is patently clear is that DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION. Unfortunately, whenever an effort to deal with that grab-bag of overlapping issues is attempted, changes are required, and somebody is bound to be distraught.
It is incumbent on City Staff to take the rest of December to get up from their superannuated chairs and come up with 3 options that are ready to implement on January 1st. This requires recognition that there are likely no legal solutions that are going to satisfy everyone. This is the new reality. Get over it.
A question for City Council is why the matter of indigency was not an important, if not the number one, issue in the most recent budget deliberations. Dodging this issue is not serving the public purpose as this is now sitting squarely on your doorstep.
Again, to state obvious, a “one-size-fits-all” solution is fantasy. Like it or not, we are talking about people who have chose to live here for whatever reason. They deserve respect and compassion with access to essential service regardless of their current tax bracket or the circumstances behind their situation.
As for Mr. Brehmer who, from all indications, is intent on holding the position of Official Hand-wringer, his history of racist comments is a matter of record. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is not particularly constructive to simply stirring up emotions. What is really needed are some factual and realistic plans to move from where we are now – which is not sustainable – to where we want to be: a just society where people have the ability to chose their path. What you don’t here from Bremner are reasonable, achievable, measurable or legal options to arrive at the desired outcome.
Furthermore, Bremner’s indictment of all people of faith suggests more about his own failings than the residents of this fine community. As they say, there are none more strident in their castigation then someone who was formerly _________ .
This time of year is synonymous with inclement weather and charitable giving. Lethbridge is laden with empty buildings of both public and private owners. To a large extent these ghost structures are the result of failed policies by the government of the day. These vacancies are further than symptoms of multiple policy failures by elected officials and staff ill prepared to deal with anything that require anything more than a perfunctory effort.
The first thing to do is offer people an alternative to living on the street with several options based on their specific situation. The second thing is to explore all the options in a dispassionate and object manner. Moralizing about how we should not be facilitating lifestyles we personally eschew does not mean we condone self-destructive behaviour. After all, when the barn is burning you get the horses out immediately and determine the origins later so that you reduce risks of reoccurrence.
DPL

Dennis Bremner

Fair answer and criticism I would suppose. But my solution saves the downtown and gives EVERY Addict a home, whether white, yellow, black or indigenous so I am not sure what you find racist about it?
“Do No Harm to Anyone” is hardly a racist or for that matter an unfair thing, or perhaps maybe in your opinion?
I know who you are Dale, if you want to hide behind an alias that is fine but I have answered all these questions to your face and because you have other ideas you prefer to consider mine racist. So lets hear your solution Dale, people are waiting, mine is published at https://lethccc.com
Let me help you once again Dale.
1) Setting up Barrick like facilities on the outskirts of town to serve anyone who lives for free is legal. It also prevents people who have a propensity to die from being alone and being supervised 24/7 negating the “67% or 64 that died in their own home. A barrick like structure as provided in https://lethcc.com could also overcome the 50% who have to be rehomed after 90 days.
2) Seniors are forced back to their home if they are suffering from a disease that creates incompetence. Alcohol and Drugs do that so issuing an alert when a person is not of sound mind and returning them to their home is already part of our system
3) Treatment facilities can be downtown or out where the Barrick is located
4) Buses can run back and forth to ensure they are able to get around to Dr appointments etc
5) During the time that a person is not in charge of their own brain, they fall under the same rules as a Dementia person. They must be protected from themselves.
6) You insist no one has the right to tell anyone where they must live. If you expect social services like food, clothing, shelter, etc etc for free, you take it where it is provided. Under your limited understanding, if we provided services downtown and an individual wanted services at the Airport, we would have to give it to him.
7) You, Dale have no clue what you are talking about and its the reason I will never be dealing with you again. Your understanding of Lethbridge and its problems are so limited in scope that it is no wonder your group had all your membership guit.
I have explained this to you how this can be done within the law numerous times, but I just find you are a confused individual and I assume the feelings are mutual. Have a nice day!

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
Learjet

Dennis – As you say, you have no property, no resources and no horse in this race. So, really, yours is just another voice. Unfortunately, your solution involves using someone else’s money and an amendment to the Canadian Bill of Rights. Dictators forcing “undesirables” into internment camps has been tried for various reasons throughout history. So… file 13 for your dystopian solution.
As I have already stated, we have empty buildings all over the city that can be pressed into service on a temporary emergency basis. The City has the budget to cover the costs but lacks the will.
The immediate need is to establish several emergency accommodations that segregate people, by gender, and need with a safe place free of those with addictions, as well as those who are not yet enrolled in programs. I am informed that when R Place was operating here the LPS had very few calls for response. This isn’t my idea – I admit I’m not that creative. That is why I look to other communities that have implemented programs and achieved success. https://victoriahomeless.ca.
i know private property owners who willing to make their buildings available but until the handwringing stops and decisions get made, they will continue to remain empty while editorials by people who buy newsprint by the semi load and ink by the barrel remain unheeded.
Of course it would help if the Justice system wasn’t so ineffective but you can’t change what you can’t control. In extreme cases, we do have the Alberta Mental Health Act that provides a legal basis to take people into custody who lack the faculties to avoid self-harm.
If this isn’t clear enough, Dennis, then I suggest running for office. I’m sure people would find your ideas more interesting once you have some skin in the game. N’est-ce Pas?

Last edited 1 year ago by Learjet
Dennis Bremner

So having a conflict, ie proposing something that makes you money, is better than no conflict? Interesting take. Just because you ran for office does not mean everyone else wishes too. I cannot stand indecision, or studying things to death while people expire!
An amendment to the Canadian Bill of Rights, again, I am no longer going to listen to your clueless quotes that does not apply.
Undesireables /internment camp? Yup yur losing it, were done.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
bladeofgrass

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Last edited 1 year ago by bladeofgrass