October 26th, 2020

Reflecting on City’s 2019


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on December 20, 2019.

Much was accomplished, more remains to be done

The end of a calendar year brings many opportunities for connection, reflection and celebration. Connecting with loved ones, reflecting on the year that has been and celebrating with those nearest and dearest to you will fill the holidays.

As I reflect on the past year, I am proud of the work that city council has done to further our wonderful city and look forward to continuing this work into 2020.

A major highlight for me during 2019 was seeing our population grow to more than 100,000 residents making Lethbridge the third-largest city in Alberta. The opening of the ATB Centre, the Park ‘N Ride and the Cavendish Farms plant were also the culmination of the hard work of many from across the City and the business community.

Another source of pride is the work that has been done to further reconciliation in our community. Earlier this year city council unanimously voted to adopt the traditional Blackfoot greeting, Oki, as the official greeting of Lethbridge. This motion was brought forward to council by the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee and is something I encourage all residents to learn more about.

As part of my role with the Alberta Mid-Sized Cities Mayors’ Caucus, I was fortunate to host the group in the city earlier this year. I was proud to give the visiting mayors a tour of our fine city and even prouder to hear their comments and feedback about our many wonderful facilities, programs and overall quality of amenities that we provide to our residents. Lethbridge is a truly wonderful place to build a life, raise a family, conduct business and call home and it was nice to hear that so many of my colleagues throughout the province thought so, too.

At the same time, social issues and safety have also been on the minds of many residents who have been directly and indirectly affected by the drug crisis impacting our city. City council has been tirelessly advocating for more funds and more services for Lethbridge to address these issues.

This year we heard the public concern over needle debris, panhandling, downtown safety, loitering, petty crime and illegal activity in our parks. While our residents and businesses are sharing these concerns, city council is listening carefully, meeting with our partners in other levels of government and advocating for Lethbridge. What we’ve heard confirmed our belief that our city has been under-served for many years. I can assure you that city council has worked tirelessly to make sure our city gets the resources it needs to respond to the drug crisis.

For decades our city has struggled to manage social issues. For the most part, the reason is because mental health, addiction, rehabilitation and supported housing are not within the jurisdiction of municipal government. While we have some of the highest needs in the province, the historical funding model to health regions has caused us to be under-resourced based on our needs. We know we need programs, services and facilities for transition after detox.

On that front, city council recently unanimously allocated provincially-provided funding to renovate the Lethbridge Shelter and Resource Centre building to accommodate a 30-bed intox program. This program is provincially funded and operated but because we own the building and land that the shelter is located on, we were asked to contribute to ensuring the building is set up in order to operate the program. The implementation of this program is a start in the right direction but we still need to see more from the province in terms of funding and resources to help address some of the social issues we see in the city.

City council has made significant investment in public safety and addressed increased demand on Lethbridge Police Services (LPS) by asking the Lethbridge Police Commission to look at what resources would be needed by the LPS. Council also recently approved funding for the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy through to 2022 which has a direct focus on maintaining a clean and safe environment in which our downtown businesses, residents and visitors can thrive.

As I reflect back on 2019 and the challenges that we have faced as a community, I am encouraged by the fact that we continue to keep proving we are a strong, resilient, vibrant, passionate, hard-working and unwavering community. It is those qualities that have helped us rally together, focus on what is important to us and ensure that Lethbridge comes out the other side better than ever.

In closing, on behalf of city council and everyone at the City of Lethbridge, I want to wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all residents. Be safe, and enjoy this special time with your family and friends.

Chris Spearman is the mayor of Lethbridge. His column appears monthly.

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Citi Zen

Break out the popcorn, folks. Here we go……

George McCrea

Failing to hold anyone accountable, creating a problem, riding in on the white horse to fix it. How progressive. Pass the popcorn. A positive message from the Mayor who has called Joe Mauro a moron, Called Blaine Hyggen out for stabbing him in the back and literally told people if they don’t like it move.
Pfft.

Fescue

Nice to have a Mayor that tells the simple truth about Joe and Blaine.

Best Mayor in memory who is dealing with difficult issues in times of fiscal austerity. I am grateful that we didn’t have a Mayor that stuck his or her head in the sand, like many of the grumblers gracing the Comments blog wanting to thrice tap their ruby red shoes to make everything better again.

George McCrea

Speaking of having a head in the sand.

Montreal13

Agree George. Is a mayor who on social media for all to see saying ,”If you don’t like it move”, exactly ,”dealing with difficult issues” appropriately ?

Resolute

Your official greeting is something unrelated to anything that built or created Lethbridge so how can that be appropriate? Accomplishments? Like your gungho role in creating and funding our drug abuse facility, wasting our (2nd highest in Alberta – yippee!) property tax and grant moneys, driving away the first decent City Manager we’ve had in memory, putting Lethbridge #1 in StatsCan and McLeans ranking of crime in Canada, driving away investment with new levels of bureaucracy/redtape/nepotism, Council conflicts of interest including LSCO CEO named Green Acres director, and much more. Oh you did calm the police officers down by dumping our bullying divisive ineffective police chief so that was one plus. We can only hope for a better 2020 – how about resigning for an early Christmas gift! We deserve something!

Dennis Bremner

Good to see you Mr Mayor and Bourgue are on the same page. Start an SCS, attract users from around the area to Lethbridge, have a confused Police Chief who cooperates, then moves on to Ontario after allowing the “New Residents” of Lethbridge to flourish from 300 he could not handle to now 1500 PLUS! That ensured Bourgue her permanent high paying job which was her goal. That now allows you to call the 1500 “homeless” while the true homeless of Lethbridge are beaten and mugged by your “New Residents” of Lethbridge. Then Mr Mayor you declare that ” homelessness creates drug addiction” which is new to anyone with a brain, but now you are able to spend endless taxpayer money saying you are “assisting the homeless”. I have watched this exact progression around the world. Its textbook!
The goody two shoes of the community create SCS knowing full well the banner “saving lives” puts them in good stead for excessive free funding. Then they attract surrounding addicts to the community. That increases the users to a point that idle threats of “releasing the hourde if SCS is shutdown” is used to suppress any calls for the closing of the unit that caused the explosion, in the first place, which again ensures a job for life for the “owner” and her staff.
What truly amazes me is this process of cart before the horse has been duplicated 100’s of times. He who is a regional first gets all the addicts from all the surrounding areas because its the first time in years that an addict can pull a “Sally Fields at the Oscars” and say “they really really like me”, so they come in droves. Then, limited people like the people who are running this city, can’t understand where the hell all these addicts are coming from but, never fear the SCS owner gives them an out because now they are not only “clients”(the ones that pay her) but now they are residents and homeless” which gives Mr Mayor the out he needed to then use the taxpayers money to house them.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the other surrounding towns are loving it because all they do is step up their discipline levels and make the life of their addicts tough and the addict does the “screw you dude” I am heading to Lethbridge where “they really really like me” and they know I deserve respect, while I mug and B&E ,their residents!
Meanwhile Mr Mayor who is severely focused on “headlights” decides to expand the housing because of the overload of addicts that were created by the Drug Clubhouse which was created by his policy! Which then is an “all points bulletin” to all the outlier communities, who then toss their addict out on the street at 2AM at -20C with a parting gift. That gift is the hot tip of “did you know Lethbridge is setting up housing of Addicts”?
So by the end of the summer we will have 2000+ addicts, all “residents of this great city” and suddenly the big guys with the Motorcycles show up. Crime will begin to rise exponentially because severity will rise. Once severity rises suddenly Mr Mayor get Number 1 for the Most dangerous places to live because the wannabe drug lord with a pocket knife is being shown the inside of a body bag.
Soon after that the numbers of people visiting SCS drops exponentially based on total number of addicts. SCS will claim this as some sort of “we are winning” when in fact most of their clients are being sought for crimes in the community so send their buddies in for a stockpile of needles instead of actually using SCS. Bourgue describes those new people as “New users of her facility”, when in fact the drug clubhouse is evolving into a mail pick up facility only and the “mail ” are needles and pipes! SCS will call this “saving lives from a distance”?
Bourgue still has her job for life because she will still get about 600 visits a day when we pop over 2000 addicts. The trouble is, the 1400 that will not go (because outstanding warrants or fear of arrest) are living in the drug houses that Mr Mayor is so proud of closing 2 out of 90 Plus while they are creating new ones every month to stay one pace ahead of the Police. Ahh we recall the days fondly of just having “300 addicts” and the Chief’s response of no idea what to do, as the “good ole days”
Meanwhile Mr Mayor whomever he/she is, will still be fighting for the residents of Lethbridge, but what you won’t realize is he/she means our new residents! You, well you are just a casualty of helping the homeless (who steal $2500 a month from you, to feed a habit) which the X/Y generation has redefined as “save my bro so he/she can do it all over again 20 minutes later”! This is sooooo textbook there is a Coles Notes on store shelves. Its called “What not to do with Drug Addicts”! If you can’t find a copy ask Mr Mayor if you can borrow his!

Lethbridge welcome wagon will be busy this summer, perhaps a takeout window so as the Hell’s Angels drive in, they can pick up their goodies, quickly!

Montreal13

Bourgue and circus were given a huge budget (from the NDP) to go out and travel the world to find “best practices”. They could have just gone to Vancouver and saved the taxpayers millions on their big European tour. They could have saved millions of more misspent dollars by allowing themselves to see Vancouver’s missteps. All 4 pillars for 300 addicts or the cart with the horse ,maybe?