By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 16, 2020.
During the past week, the numbers of confirmed and active COVID-19 cases in Lethbridge and the surrounding area have increased dramatically.
Lethbridge, we need to support each other to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and that means following the Alberta Health Services guidelines. A firm reminder, please follow these protocols:
– Maintain at least six feet of distance from others when out in public;
– Wear a mask in all indoor public spaces when distancing is not possible;
– Wash your hands often and well;
– Maintain a small cohort group.
Everyone needs to take these precautions seriously to ensure businesses can continue to operate.
The City bylaw for mandatory masking in all public spaces remains in effect to help limit transmission within the community. We all need to keep each other safe.
Everything we can do to protect our economy is vital right now. With Halloween just around the corner, I encourage all residents to consider creative ways to follow the public health protocols while still having fun. With the number of active cases increasing, please do your part to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19.
Sadly, a devastating fire last Friday caused extensive damage at a west Lethbridge apartment complex and has displaced residents of 36 units. Our best wishes go out to all those affected. Thank you to our Lethbridge Fire Department for their quick response and efforts to limit injuries. One firefighter was taken to hospital for precautionary measures, and we are thankful he has recovered. Our thanks also to the Canadian Red Cross who worked with the City and Alberta Health Services to manage the arrangement of such supports as immediate medical needs, transportation and lodging. Donations can be made to support the work of the Red Cross by visiting http://www.redcross.ca.
On a more positive note, last Friday I was happy to attend the grand opening of the city’s latest playground, Crossings Playground. The community provided input into the features and design, including a 25-foot tower, a large climbing structure and zip lines! This accessible playground is inclusive for all ages and abilities. What a great project and one that families can enjoy for many years to come.
Also last week, the University of Lethbridge achieved its highest-ever position in the annual Maclean’s University Rankings Report, placing second overall in the primarily undergraduate classification. The U of L surpassed its previous best-ever third-place ranking from 2013-17. Great job, University of Lethbridge faculty, staff and students, for again showing that we have a world-class post-secondary institution in our city!
The Economic Recovery Committee of Council has been busy and on Monday at the regular city council meeting, council will consider a presentation on the Development Based Incentive Program. This is a major component to our economic recovery efforts and an important step to help support and keep businesses open during COVID recovery. The proposed incentive programs include:
– Real Estate Sales and Leases;
– Affordable/Social Housing Capital Project Grant;
– Urban Core Housing Incentive Program;
– Targeted Redevelopment Incentive Program;
– Urban Core Property Improvement Grant Program;
– Industrial Municipal Tax Incentive.
Lethbridge City Council recently unanimously approved round one of funding allocations for the Lethbridge Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy (CWSS), which will provide almost $6 million to community agencies. Out of this amount, the financial contribution from the City of Lethbridge is about four per cent to one component. The remainder is from the federal and provincial governments. This will help to integrate funding to maximize the collective impact so Lethbridge residents get social services based on their level of need. We know there is a major need to assist the most vulnerable in our community and this is a great step in that direction. For more information, visit https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/Community-agencies-receive-nearly-$6-million-as-part-of-Community-Wellbeing-and-Safety-Strategy.aspx.
The challenge to keep our local EMS dispatch service continues. Once again, together with the mayors of Calgary, Red Deer and the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, I plan to be in Edmonton next week as we make a presentation to both the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and to representatives of the UCP Caucus regarding our stance. We maintain that patient outcomes will suffer under a centralized dispatch model, and to date, neither the health minister nor anybody in AHS has given us any information that would be contrary to that point of view.
They haven’t changed their minds, so we will continue to put the pressure on. We also continue to ask our local MLAs to advocate for all constituents of Lethbridge and our surrounding municipalities. We would encourage citizens to contact our MLAs and the Minister of Health to voice their concerns on this crucial matter.
As this is the last column before Remembrance Day, please note that organizers have had to make the difficult decision to cancel the indoor ceremony normally held in the Exhibition Pavilion on Nov. 11. The outdoor ceremony at the Cenotaph in front of the Yates Memorial Centre will go ahead with social distancing and face masks encouraged to keep everyone safe. Watch for ceremony details in the next issue of the Recreation and Culture Guide.
Chris Spearman is the mayor of Lethbridge. His column appears monthly.