By Lethbridge Herald on November 13, 2020.
Lethbridge has actually received its fair share of funding from the province
If you spend any time at all listening to certain political voices on social media, a concerning narrative emerges with regards to our city. A picture is painted of Lethbridge, the poor child, at the government table, fighting for scraps of any remaining government spending. You may even hear a narrative that will leave you with the impression that the City of Lethbridge is receiving “nothing” from the provincial government.
I have to admit, if the claim that Lethbridge has received nothing was actually true it would be very concerning. And as a citizen of Lethbridge, I would have some very serious words about what my elected officials were doing to mitigate this.
I am here, however, to tell you that this narrative is false.
If you read my article last month, you will already be aware of the significant spending that our government has either committed to investing in Lethbridge or committed to Lethbridge and area that will have a direct economic benefit to our city.
The most important take-away is that Lethbridge has received over $300 million in funding initiatives this year alone. Some of the funding initiatives include funding for the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge College, Exhibition Park and the twinning of Highway 3.
But, what I didn’t mention was that the award to the University of Lethbridge was the single-largest post-secondary maintenance award in the province. Furthermore, I didnÕt mention that the university and the college received nearly $4 million in additional funding for new agricultural based research that will help Lethbridge and area to remain one of the primary agricultural hubs in our province.
After the debacle cause by the SCS here in Lethbridge, real supports were needed to help those with mental-health issues and addictions. That is why Lethbridge received $2 million for a mobile SCS site, $10 million for 125 new treatment beds, $1.2 million and $2 million for Foothills and Lethbridge ongoing annual treatment funding respectively, and over $1 million in Community Grant funding to aid those in need of support for recovery. In the spring our government announced $20 million which will be used, in part, to set up a Drug Court in Lethbridge and to fund four new ALERT officers. Not only that, but as of last week, there is no user-service fee for any treatment bed in Alberta.
There are also increases in funding for maintenance at both of our school boards totaling $6 million, and community grants for the arts and for local businesses. More than 245 Lethbridge businesses received up to $5,000 each through the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant and $1.25 million was given to the community through culture-funded community grants.
Finally, the City of Lethbridge itself was given over $25 million in additional funding. This funding was in the form of an additional $12 million for Municipality Sustainability over and above its normal allocation, a further $11 million for operational support, and $3.5 million for seniors and housing to create 64 new beds.
While our government continues to face the challenges of COVID and helping our economy recover, many initiatives have seen Lethbridge receive the highest dollar value per capita in the province. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the benefits that Lethbridge will experience from the lion’s share of investment made in irrigation infrastructure that will feature Lethbridge as a hub of global agriculture.
In light of all that our government is doing for our city, it remains a mystery to me how Lethbridge could ever be perceived as the poor child at the government spending table. There is still more work to do and needs to address but in more ways than one, Lethbridge is leading the way.
Nathan Neudorf is the UCP MLA for the Lethbridge-East riding. His column appears monthly.