By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on February 19, 2021.
Chris Speaman – Mayor of Lethbridge
Our local and regional economy depends on clean water. At its most recent meeting, Lethbridge City Council voted unanimously to have its voice be heard in regards to any current and future coal mining projects on the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies.
Lethbridge is downstream and gets its water from the Oldman River, so any proposed projects have the potential of affecting the water in the entire Oldman Watershed. Lethbridge’s and southern Alberta’s economy and jobs may be impacted long-term if water quality issues affect the quality of our irrigation water and the reputation of our agri-food processing hubs may be damaged for years. This is about both quality and quantity of water.
This week, on behalf of Council, I sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney and others to express our appreciation for the recent decision by the Government of Alberta to re-instate the 1976 Coal Policy. The letter also states: “As was clearly expressed by the public response to news that surface mining projects were slated for development at the headwaters of the Oldman River in the Crowsnest Pass, the protection of our water resource and natural landscapes in southwest Alberta are of paramount importance to the City of Lethbridge and indeed all Albertans.”
More information on our request to the Government of Alberta that they take measures in regards to any current and all future coal mining projects on the eastern slopes can be read here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/City-Council-wants-public-consultation-for-coal-mining-projects-.aspx
The Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta economy represents billions invested in the agriculture industry. I encourage people to get involved and speak up on how any coal mining project developments may affect you.
At next week’s meeting, Council will have first reading on options relating to Bylaw 6239 – the Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw. This item was recently at the Community Safety Standing Policy Committee and will mark the first time a recommendation will come from an SPC to Council’s Consent Agenda for further discussion. The agenda is on the City website for those looking to read more about it: https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/AgendaOnline/
Whatever happens at Council, we all continue to have a personal responsibility in doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is for our own health and for the wellness of our community.
This has been essential since the start of the pandemic and continues with renewed importance as our active case numbers remain high.
In order to protect our residents and staff, the City of Lethbridge is committed to continuing with all necessary measures to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
We want to keep our residents safe and keep our businesses open.
Also on the agenda for next week’s Council meeting is a proposed Official Business Resolution relating to Council’s ongoing advocating to retain local EMS Dispatch Services despite the recent centralization.
The City of Lethbridge seeks to ensure the highest and most efficient standard of care is provided to those requiring expedited EMS dispatch services and medical attention in medical emergencies.
I will be asking our City Manager to investigate options to improve communication and accountability from Alberta Health Services in order to address the deficiencies we have experienced with the centralized ambulance dispatch model.
Recently, Lethbridge City Council passed first reading for Bylaw 6265 – a new and updated Municipal Development Plan (MDP) to be reviewed and considered for approval by Council. The role of the MDP is to set a vision and policy guidance for the City to improve residents’ quality of life, to meet the community’s changing needs, to foster a prosperous local economy and to grow in a responsible manner for years to come.
The updated MDP provides high level guidance that will have a big impact in our community.
As such, there is an opportunity for residents to share feedback with Council on this new plan. Members of the public and community stakeholders are encouraged to share their feedback.
A public hearing is scheduled from March 1-5 for Council to listen to the public’s feedback and ask clarifying questions. Changes to the MDP may be made during second and third reading, which will be scheduled at a later date.
For more project information visit: http://www.lethbridge.ca/mdp. For public participation information, please visit: https://www.lethbridge.ca/City-Government/public-hearing-notices/Pages/Bylaw-6265—Municipal-Development-Plan-%28MDP%29.aspx
While Provincial restrictions continue for everyone’s safety, the City has been working with community groups to review and re-assess changes to determine their impact on recreation facility operations. The City has been working directly with community groups to determine their updated usage needs. On February 18, our pool operator, Recreation Excellence, announced the start of private lessons at two City pools starting February 22. Both Nicholas Sheran and Stan Siwik pools will offer private lesson times Monday to Thursday mornings and afternoons, as well as Saturday mornings. All updated information will be available on the City website at: https://www.lethbridge.ca/Things-To-Do
February is a busy month of significant events. It is Black History Month, which has an even greater impact with the ongoing social justice movements in our world.
It is Heart Month, which has extra significance with trying to stay healthy during the pandemic.
The third annual Women’s Memorial March in Honour of Missing and Murdered Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA People on Feb. 14 was modified this year to be a story board walk in the Nature Reserve Park along the Coalbanks Trail.
It continues until February 21. Streets Alive’s Coldest Night of the Year is Saturday.All of these events and occasions highlight the importance of supporting each other in the community.
This is crucial throughout the year and has been amplified during the pandemic. I strongly encourage everyone to help each other where they can, while keeping safety and public health protocols at the forefront. Let’s all do our very best to keep each other healthy!