May 28th, 2024

Grounds for optimism

By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on January 21, 2021.

While our city struggled in 2020 just like other communities across the province, there are grounds for some optimism heading in 2021. Not only is a widely available COVID vaccine on the horizon for local residents, Lethbridge appears to be bucking provincial trends with a red hot real estate market in the past year. Lethbridge led the province in percentage of home sales in 2020, and also in upward trends on pricing. The City really held its own compared to other jurisdictions of a similar size despite the strong economic headwinds we faced over the past year.

A lot of this resilience, as has been noted numerous times by various analysts and commentators, is due to Lethbridge’s diversified economy which is more tied to agriculture than other cities and larger communities across Alberta. But there is something more at play here.

Lethbridge continues to forge its own path ahead by encouraging a vibrant local retail sector with supportive policies from the City, our public sector continues to contribute much to the ongoing diversification of the local economy, and Lethbridge is used to having to make its own way in the world with scant attention, historically speaking, from the province. We have always been in the shadow of Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, and even Medicine Hat to some degree, but we have learned to thrive there, and found unique and creative ways to go forward despite it.

While the UCP government has invested strategically in this corner of Alberta recently with new resources allocated for irrigation, highways and the airport, and has spent significant funds on Exhibition Park, what it has done is speed up processes already well underway by local groups and communities on creating a local food cluster and agri-food hub. It is money well-spent, but it is also a tribute to the groundwork already laid by the forward-looking stakeholders in the region.

With 2020 behind us, and a post-COVID reality beginning to come into sight, we must continue to be forward-looking as a city and a region. We must continue to envision the future we want for our community, and work steadily toward it as citizens and policy makers.

In this way, not only can we take stock of the city and region as it stands today, but we can also ensure our future prosperity for generations to come.

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