July 21st, 2024

Do we have to wait a year to hear the solution to downtown lawlessness?

By Lethbridge Herald on February 3, 2024.


On October 18,2023 city council unanimously approved the creation of a task force to look into lawlessness, primarily downtown, as a result of a motion presented by Mayor Blaine Hyggen and Acting Mayor John Middleton-Hope.

Apparently the word “lawlessness” was a lot of hyperbole according to councillor Belinda Crowson, but Middleton-Hope noted “this resolution is strongly worded because tough problems call for tough solutions”, he further noted “We have a lot of issues but we are doing a lot of work.”

On, November 16, 2023, terms of reference were set for the lawlessness task force.

Middleton-Hope said the task force will identify the top 20 issues then prioritize them.  Middleton-Hope is thinking big. He said “we need to work on a solution for our city, we are doing it at the local level and then we are going to do it at the provincial level.” The task force will not be looking at homelessness Middleton-Hope noted.

At the December 12, 2023 meeting at City Hall to discuss terms of reference for the task force, 20 items are part of it, too many to mention, but one I thought is worth mentioning: the members should be curious, innovative and analytical in their approach.

On December 15, 2023, city council approves the terms of reference for the Downtown Lawlessness Task Force. 

It will operate through 2024 with a review planned before the end of December 2024.  Middleton-Hope noted “this task force now has a clear direction to identify the symptoms and depth of lawlessness behaviour and the impact to our city. We will collaboratively strategize on responses and resourcing requirements, then work with stakeholders to take action on solutions.”

On January 2, the Task Force elects its chair and vice chair. Also at this meeting Director of Community and Council Relations Travis Hillier was directed to look for a required funding source to have HelpSeekers analyse City data and help determine the Task Force’s priorities. 

It was suggested that up to $10.000 was available. Did not Mr. Middleton-Hope claim at the Dec.15 meeting that the Task Dorce has now a clear direction to identify the symptoms and deptH of lawless behaviour in the City? 

And is there no one on the City payroll who can analyse City data?  And by the way the cost of the data provided by Helpseekers is $9,999 but I suppose that’s just a coincidence even though the City did tell them that they had up to $10,000 to spend!

On January 27, BRZ looking forward to  future of  task force (Lethbridge Herald).  The task force will be holding meetings the second and fourth  Thursday of each month expecting to last between one and 1.5 hours and since it did not say otherwise I’m assuming that those meetings will go on all year till their planned review at the end of December of this year. 

So adding all that up, let’s say 12 months times, two meeting times  at 1.5 hours per meeting, that works out to about 36 hours of meetings this year. That’s a lot of talking.

Since the task force will only deal with lawlessness it might be reasonable to assume that we will see a task force on homelessness sometime in the future since the two are almost going hand in hand.

Here is an example of that: Vancouver city council years ago thought it appropriate to allow homeless people in the Downtown Eastside to hold a flea market near a park every Saturday morning so they would have some money to purchase things they needed.

Here is how that worked out: the homeless sold items and made a few dollars and the business people and home owners in the area could go to the flea market and buy back things stolen from them for pennies on the dollar, a win-win situation for everyone!

So I guess we will have to wait till the end of this year to find out what the solution will be to the downtown lawlessness.

Barney Feenstra


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I like the flea market comment! 🙂
I have faith in this task force! I believe the changes will be ongoing as issues are realized by this task force and I know they have the right people on this task force to be successful.
I quit my job at City Hall as security to fight for the encampment strategy and although I was impatient at times, I am pleased with their plan.
I now fight for downtown, where I live, work, conduct business and walk for exercise.
No one is as frustrated as I am, but I will say that this city has been a model for other cities in dealing with the issues, and in doing so, we are seeing less of an impact than other cities. After saying that, we can do much better, and this task force is focused on doing much better.
In the last 7 years, since the idea of an SCS came up, I fought to stop and then close it, along with hundreds of other citizens impacted. We would now look more like Vancouver DTES if we hadn’t taken action.
I have been assaulted a few times, had my vehicle broke into, saw many events I enjoyed walking to in Galt Gardens move to other venues, change where I fueled up my vehicle, had our building renovated to close off areas the addicts were getting into as well as have increase in cameras installed in our CCTV, and many other inconveniences, but a few days ago, when informing a young Indigneous man that he shouldn’t be urinating on the SW corner of the Post Office building, and that there were washrooms in the Park N Ride across the alley, I was once again assaulted, but my training prevented injury. He was arrested for assault! He could have walked to a washroom in 1 minute.
I could have walked along and said nothing, but after exiting our building by the rear exit to walk to the Post Office, I noticed two urine spots near the doors. I made the suggestion and continued walking, but he came after me.
His focus was to intimidate me, but it failed!
Society does fear these individuals and they do observe these antisocial behaviours of lawlessness but do nothing, because they know law enforcement can do little without the Crown changing policies and the feds actually doing their job and putting in proper legislation for police, as well as resolving the issues in the judicial and penal systems, increasing drug courts so many of the addicts can be treated by effective treatment plans which do not give them criminal records, but give them a chance in life, etc., so that when people report these incidents, it can be dealt with to deter further acts. We have a long way to go!
Without a deterrent, there will be no change and issues will only increase.
I have witnessed many issues in the last week, with police/fire/EMS dealing with them. Police still do not have their numbers up to the national per capita average to deal with all the issues, but they are working hard to serve the community. Many are not aware of all the calls fire/EMS respond to downtown, not just police.
Indigenous communities must start taking responsibility for this crisis as well and deal with the crime on their communities, instead of banishing and removing the dealers, criminals, addicts from their communities, where they end up on our streets, as part of the problem. Many die with 5 years once they end up on the streets, some weeks.
The issues are complex, as they state, but we can dramatically decrease the issues, saving lives at the same time, by taking actions that this task force is in place for!

Last edited 5 months ago by ewingbt

round ’em all up, place them all in forced internment for addicts. first, gotta pass a law that says addictions are illegal, but boss hog can get that done on the back of a napkin. then, once cured, as we know that is all these addicts need to be cured, give ’em a used suit, 2nd hand shoes, a hair cut with a straight part, and point them to where all the high paying jobs are, and the bevvy of wonderful homes they can afford. indeed, what are we waiting for?