By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on April 12, 2019.
This month’s ‘From City Hall’ column by Mayor Chris Spearman
What an amazing event the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship at the Enmax Centre was for our city. Congratulations and thank you to the organizers, the sponsors and hundreds of volunteers and staff who worked so hard to pull off a world-class event that we can be proud of. You put a friendly face on each aspect of this world-stage event and should be proud of your efforts.
Not only did Lethbridge appear on television sets across the world thanks to the pool of international broadcasters who covered the event, but also with the individual stories of kindness and hospitality that will go back with those who visited. They saw our community come together and cheered alongside us as part of the packed crowds at the Enmax Centre for more than a week of championship curling action.
This week we announced that ATB Centre Phase 2 will be open for public use beginning May 4. This impressive 256,000 square feet of family fun is built and owned by the City of Lethbridge and will operate as the Cor Van Raay YMCA. When open, access will be available for all residents either through drop-in day passes or a variety of membership options. From the surf simulator, water slides, wave pool, lap pool, spray area and steam rooms in the aquatics area to the indoor running and walking track and aerobic fitness equipment in the fitness centre to the indoor child play centre, public art displays and retail spaces, this leisure centre is a game changer for not only our city, but our region. This is a destination facility that is a major drawing card for our community and those surrounding towns and beyond. Be sure to book a tour by heading to http://www.lethbridgeymca.ca. You will be blown away not only at the size but by the incredible amenities and opportunities this state-of-the-art facility holds.
As we approach the final days of campaigning in the provincial election, it is important to note the priorities we are working towards as a city. We want to see a provincial government that shows a commitment to partnering with municipalities to address the needs of the citizens we serve together. A commitment to continuing Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) Funding is key to orderly planning for future local capital priorities. Lethbridge was allocated more than $13 million in the 2018 MSI budget. This helps fund infrastructure projects like the ATB Centre, a future west Lethbridge fire station or a possible performing arts centre.
This funding is allocated by the province based on several qualifying factors like population size, which is why it’s important that we capture our census data annually. Census 2019 is currently underway and by now you should have received your personal identification number that allows you to complete your survey online at Lethbridge.ca/census. Alternatively, Census takers are out and about right now and will happily take your information in person.
Other areas of funding priority for our city include a continued commitment to Family and Community Social Services (FCSS), policing and social supports related to the drug crisis and, of course, assistance for developing the airport.
City council recently passed a resolution to assume the operations of the airport which will happen this summer until a commission or airport authority can be finalized. Part of the approved resolution also mandates that City administration present a one-year budget to council at the May 15 meeting. Additionally, City administration is to conduct a competitive process to offer oversight for growth and development of the Lethbridge Airport and report to city council. The development of the airport is a priority because it is an economic catalyst for our city and region. Work on the Airport Masterplan has been ongoing for some time and it will shape the way improvements and services are offered. In order to carry out this plan, we will need funding assistance to make it happen and that will only happen if we have a supportive provincial government who understands the importance of a viable airport as a local priority.
I would like to strongly encourage all eligible city residents to vote. We are fortunate to live in a democratic society that values due process in electing our leaders. There are several opportunities to make your voice heard in this provincial election with advance polls now open and lots of polling stations available across the city. For a full list of voting locations near you, head to elections.ab.ca which will ask you to enter your address and will then show you on a map and give you a physical address of where you can vote.
To support our residents getting to the polls, the City of Lethbridge is offering free transit on Election Day, Tuesday, April 16. Drivers will place a “Free Transit on Election Day” sign over the fare boxes when transit service begins at 5:45 a.m. until 9 p.m., one hour after the polls close.
Lethbridge City Council has the best interests of our citizens as our first priority. We are committed to continue advocating for your interests and working with the provincial government that is elected on Tuesday to address the priorities of our city and region.
Chris Spearman is the mayor of Lethbridge. His column appears monthly.
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