By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 9, 2020.
The summer of 2020 is not what many of us would have considered “normal” under any circumstances. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, the work of government did not cease and my summer schedule reflected a very busy summer. >As a member of the Legislative Assembly, I was elected on a mandate to do what is best for Albertans and for Lethbridge. And this year I truly feel that I was able to accomplish that mandate.
While the legislative session only ran for five months this spring, the government remained hard at work as reflected in the numerous announcements made by the premier and members of cabinet in kicking off Alberta’s Recovery Plan to restart our economy. And, many of these announcements centred around Lethbridge and area. >Of course, the first of these announcements was that Exhibition Park would receive $27.8 million towards its new vision and convention centre. Then there was the announcement that $150 million was being allocated for the twinning of Highway 3 from Taber to Burdett. This announcement goes a long way in demonstrating that our government is committed to strengthening the agricultural corridor with Lethbridge as a hub for this sector. >
In addition to these announcements, almost $25 million in funding was given to the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College for capital maintenance and renewal projects like new boilers and HVAC systems – some of which have been on the to-do list for years.
These announcements, combined with additional funds for mental health and addictions treatment and recovery centres of over $12 million, additional maintenance dollars for our two school boards, community grants for the arts and local businesses, and over $30 million in additional funding to our City municipality total, over $300 million spent on new initiatives announced for Lethbridge and area this year alone.
The importance of these investments goes without saying. But, for Lethbridge to have a voice and influence in government is even more crucial, which is why it is such an honour to that I was named the chair of the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future this spring. >The reason why this is important for Lethbridge is because this committee is the legislative policy committee whose mandate relates to areas of Advanced Education, Culture, Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Labour and Immigration and Infrastructure. As a result, being chair of this committee gives light to the importance Lethbridge and area play in our province.
This summer I also spent countless hours serving on the Special Select Public Health Act Review Committee, where we reviewed the Public Health Act in response to the first ever public health emergency in Alberta’s recent history. This review was integral for making recommendation to better prepare Alberta for public health emergencies in the future.
In addition to policy committees, I was also chair and co-chair of two task forces. Earlier this summer the Minister of Education asked me to chair the Student Transportation Task Force. >Working this task force afforded me the privilege of travelling to 11 communities across the province where I sat down with school boards, parents and stakeholders to discuss the challenges of busing 300,000 students to and from school each day. In addition to this, I was also named co-chair of the Victims of Crime Review along with MLA Angela Pitt – a review meant to assist in bettering the services for victims in Alberta.
All in all, it has been an incredibly busy and rewarding summer as MLA for Lethbridge East. >I am proud of this great community and it is my privilege to bring our community’s perspective to many important and vital discussions in a meaningful way. The impacts of COVID-19 on our economy are, and have been, very real. But I am proud to say that Lethbridge has one of the most diversified and best-positioned economies for responding to and growing despite these impacts. Not only this, but our community has shown tremendous leadership in engaging in the conversations that matter most during these unusual times.
As our government heads back into session this fall, I promise to continue to put Lethbridge at the forefront of conversations with my colleagues, I promise to continue to serve those who elected me, and I promise to continue to represent this incredible city well in the halls of the Legislature.
Nathan Neudorf is the UCP MLA for Lethbridge East. His column appears monthly.