June 16th, 2024

Optimism and ideas needed to move our city forward


By Lethbridge Herald on February 18, 2023.

LH EDITORIAL BOARD

It’s easy for all of us to be critical of the world around us including our home community. After all, when you look at all the issues facing humanity today, trying to be optimistic and positive isn’t easy.

We have in Lethbridge the same issues affecting every community across the country – homelessness, poverty, addictions and crime. We face the same uncertainties as the rest of humanity with the war in Ukraine, increasing tensions with China and Iran, and of course climate change and its growing impact on all of us.

But if we focus on the negatives, we can’t look at changing our world for the better. It takes optimism and creativity to survive and thrive and to overcome the challenges that mankind has battled since the beginning.

We here in Lethbridge too often complain about the negatives in our city. But take a good look at life in other communities in Alberta and beyond and try to see the benefits of working, raising a family, going to school and living here permanently.

Sure, our taxes have increased – as they have elsewhere and in some cases more than here. Yes, we have a shortage of affordable housing but city council recently agreed conditionally to pay millions of dollars to help three deserving projects address that situation if they are approved for federal Rapid Housing Initiative money. These projects are huge for our community and if approved will make a real difference in getting people the housing they need to begin thriving. If the Lethbridge Housing Association is successful in its development application, it too can better help those who want help to begin the transition from being unsheltered to having secure homes and the start of new  and better lives.

City council last November made a strong effort to address crime here by providing the Lethbridge Police Service the much-needed funding to increase its manpower so LPS can tackle the growing problems we have here. It provided needed funds to Fire/EMS so their members can more quickly and better serve our community.

Leave politics out of the equation and quit grinding the axe for awhile  – which some won’t ever do  – and take a good look at what we have in this city that makes it a great place to live, a feeling that is shared by the majority of respondents to a City survey.

We have wonderful, expansive park areas, numerous recreational opportunities, two strong post-secondary education institutions, a Western Hockey League team, superb high school sports teams and schools which provide our students with excellent education.

We have short commutes from virtually anywhere in the city and short-lived congestion during what we have for rush hours.

Can traffic flow be improved? We doubt anyone would argue that traffic lights could be better synchronized on major thoroughfares. 

And roundabouts can be annoying when they’re on every single block. But every community could probably improve its transpiration system, as well. Growth has its challenges anywhere.

This City also has a planning department which has a vision for the future of our community, a vision which we’ve seen begin transforming and revitalizing our downtown core.

Some again will argue with that vision but it’s working. And it will work if we are willing to open our minds and give that vision a chance to become reality.

Yes, downtown has huge issues to be addressed for crime, drug use and homelessness – like any other community.  An upcoming letter to the editor will reiterate the issues we are experiencing at the paper.

The activity going on in doorways and alleys is often disgusting and it’s more prevalent than ever. 

And yes, these issues need to be addressed, not only for the safety of residents, workers and downtown shoppers but also for the benefit of the people who are responsible for these behaviours. 

Downtown businesses are paying a steep price – too steep – for the addictions and homelessness issues in the core.

But despite the problems including parking, our downtown with Festival Square and the variety of businesses is a destination and will continue growing as a destination as long as we let optimism guide us rather than pessimism.

And we need to be optimistic. Everyone can take a role in improving the world around us.  We need solutions to the problems we face and we can all play a part in coming up with them. 

The world hasn’t advanced because of collective negativity and our community won’t prosper without optimism, hope and a positive outlook.

We have many reasons to be positive about our city. 

And we need to let that attitude guide us forward. We can’t let negativity shackle us and hold us down.

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Dennis Bremner

When you see people deciding, whether it be their faith or their distorted perception of humanity deciding for an entire city that duplicating the same disaster that has occurred in all other cities, it is very tough to be optimistic!
If you have never seen a city show success using the same model, what is their to be optimistic about? Do you ignore the crime that is to follow? Do you ignore the filth, the muggings, the drug dealing, the vagrancy, the bankruptcies, the vacant buildings, the devastating loses personally and financially?
Do we ignore defecation, urination, masturbation and fornication in public that kills OUR society?
Optimism comes from a plan, a strategy to preserve what is good and solve the issues associated with evil or anti-social behavior!
There is no will to solve these issues in this city. There is only a group who sits down with the City and decides how to divvy up taxpayers money into fair slices so everyone gets a piece of that pie.
City Hall and the nonprofits have never in the history of either sat down., and came up with a strategy that would not bankrupt businesses, would not prevent crushing debt from failing businesses, nor sat around determining what to do with let go employees of the same failing businesses!
In fact there appears to be a right of passage set up in the downtown where the nonprofits install their disaster, then wait for business collapses, buy the building for pennies on the dollar, set up a Church or social service and carry on “God’s Work” giving ZERO consideration to the past owner, his/her business, his/her employees and his/her destroyed retirement?
Then in your narrative you state the equivalent of “ya sure our taxes are going nuts” but smile, be happy?
So instead of demanding that Lethbridge remain intact and we help people “where we want to help them , not where they choose to be, we allow the nonprofits to kill our society, but be happy people!
Don’t ever assume it is not the nonprofits doing this. The SSIG was a conflicted group of nonprofits who did one study and one study only and it was the downtown. They never for a moment considered another area, nor did they study the impact on downtown, businesses, employers, employees or real estate. It appears it was not their mandate even though if they had more than a single focus (Savin’ Lives) they would have demanded it be part of their mandate!
Believe it or not, I am not a pessimistic person. I conduct myself from day to day believing that things will get better. However I decided almost 2 years ago to take on one job, and that was to champion the downtown! Why? Because I have seen the exact same groups destroy every city in North America and Europe repeating the same thing and “I think” expecting different results?
When I am not dealing with this subject, I am not a worry wart! But I know what we are about to endure. I watch as Edmonton announces failed commercial deals because buyers have walked away from sales because of crime and vagrancy and drugs. I have watched Edmonton announce failed enterprises in their downtown because of the path they have chosen. A path I am sure the nonprofits insisted would be “different this time” because they were smarter this time around? Yet, it is the same path the “Churches/nonprofits/City/Province have chosen for Lethbridge” and they are feeding you the same BS story? The amusing thing, “yur buyin it”!
I see businesses closing and loss of jobs and our society, in our downtown, for the exact same reasons, why? Does no one in Lethbridge care? Do they actually think Lethbridge will be different because some pompous arrogant conflicted nonprofit says we will be different?
The only “optimistic thing” about this is I will be done my preaching from the pulpit in less than a year because that’s all we have left before its too late!
“Savin Lives over Livelihoods” is a rallying cry that has the righteous running it!
Do you really know what Optimism is? Optimism is knowing people are willing to sit down and rationalize a strategy that creates a way ahead that proves an optimistic future for EVERY ONE, not just “the” selected group! Anyone seen or heard of that meeting being held yet? I sure haven’t!
Nonprofits and City staffers have no interest in anything but their way, blackballed isn’t even a good descriptor anymore! If you dare side with business owners, building owners, employees, mortgage holders over “Savin Lives” you interfere with “the sacrifice of the lambs “!
Dare stand in front of that altar, and you will get burned!

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
Montreal13

Very good overview, Mr. Bremner. But there is more than just the downtown that is getting dragged into this.

biff

thanks for taking the time to share your perspective, which you had done well following the herald’s poo on steps story. wondering, why did the herald remove that piece it wrote, which wiped away all the interesting responses in the thread.

Montreal13

Who did the editorial board think they could hoodwink with this rubbish,I would like to know?
Yes the SSIG (social services intregration group)were lead to strongly approve the northside by the 9th street bridge,Burnside,I believe. The businesses and residents over there are of no account to them or the city or Opportunity Lethbridge . The city and Opportunity Lethbridge just needed the SSIG to hide behind. That area is not considered part of downtown,by anyone by the way.
However, some people champion for the northside too. Where they are continually being dumped on to the point that some have trouble getting insurance due to “guest management issues” of the properties run by some nonprofits, Lethbridge housing authority and Opportunity Lethbridge ‘s operations.
This herald article is such an insult to those who home’s and businesses ( some northside, southside and downtown areas) who bare the lion’s share of this acute open arms strategy lead by our then NDP provincial government. Much more to come ,if they get back in. The UCP hasn’t done a great job with what they were handed and trying to dam that tide.

Dennis Bremner

I totally agree! It really shows how much we appreciate our present society and really limits our focus as to where we could expand downtown. Because as you say, its not “considered as Downtown” then it seems its an easy place to stuff the Southern Alberta Rehab Facility!
What still amazes me is people just seem to sit on the sidelines and either believing that its fine because its not in MY Backyard so as long as some others are shafted, then they are good with that. It does not take much to watch the problem spread. We saw Civic Center area, Library, Lethbridge Herald Area, Park n Ride, Galt Gardens, and all the streets in between this past year. Residents were being harassed, mugged and homes violated.
As we continue to do nothing, that area will be challenged and “they” will push out further and further as long as there are people from Lethbridge Police saying “there is not much we can do with tent cities” etc etc.
I watched this take off in Bergen Norway. Complacency became desperation as the entire downtown and the park next to Bergen University was a drug den and the center of crime.
They finally had enough, closed down the park for an entire year (fenced it off to everyone) booted everyone out AFTER they had a plan to relocate people. So now they have a facility that is about 6 miles out of the city center away from residents and businesses. You have to take a Tram to get there!
Someone decided that if you want to live for free, yes taxpayers will have to foot the bill but not necessarily where you would like to live! They started enforcing vagrancy laws, and you cannot set up tents because you have a “home” to go to! So the crying nonprofit that insists taxpayers are meanies does not work there. You have a bunk, you have a place, so police can then shut down tent cities etc.
If you do not want to live in your new “home” then its a problem for “you” not for the city, because you are not living on the streets! You are not going to interfere with Residents/ Businesses or Tourism.
Bergen has significant infrastructure to help the addicted, but they help them where the Taxpayers (Residents and Businesses) decide, not where nonprofits want cheaper downtown property to increase their value and footprint!
It is why I believe ultimately that nonprofits really do not want the issues solved because they draw more attention and money to themselves! They run around trying to pretend they are the only solution to their self induced panic. If you have a solution, they do not want to table/listen or entertain it (SSIG) because it ruins the master plan of crisis management followed by bundles of money. So terms like Racist are used as a trump card to discredit. Meanwhile its the Residents and Businesses that suffer their self interested positions. Its why I am being blackballed, so be it, we will see who was right and who was out for cash and property!
This will not be a “I told them so” thing, it will be for everyone in Lethbridge to witness as this evolves if left unchecked!.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
ewingbt

Good letter!
I am optimistic and I have hope, but I also know there is a lot of work that needs to be done and see many making decisions that will lead us down the wrong road.
Briefly . . . with the provincial elections coming up I already see the NDP friendly non-profits gaining headlines as they push for harm reduction which of course is their livelihood. In BC non-proifts are a billion dollar industry. I don’t want that to happen in this city and know we can stop it and make the changes to not just save money but save lives.
Facts- Alberta and BC have higher overdose rates than Saskatchewan (SK) and Manitoba (MB), with BC the highest. BC has many more safe consumption sites than Alberta’s 7. SK has one SCS, not supported by the SK government and MB has no SCS. Both SK and MB have about 1/3 the fatal overdoses in their provinces.
The more SCS and the more non-profits the higher the fatal overdoses. All 4 have the same drugs and the addiction issues on their streets.
This shows that harm reduction increases fatal overdoses and the high costs related.
Just in a small part of BC, with a population of only 20,000, the Vancouver DTES spends over $360 million per year on social and housing programs for the addicts, with over 1/3 federal tax dollars . . . our tax dollars . . . and that is only a smal area of Vancouver . . . the rest of the provinces burns even more of our tax dollars.
I do not want our city to get to that point and know, we can stop this and dramatically reduce the issues on our streets, but we need to know and believe we can . . . many have thrown up their hands and said . . . ” it is happening in every other city, nothing we can do “.
Wrong . . . the fact the MB and SK had chosen to no support harm reduction reflects on the fatal overdose stats.
We CAN take back our city, but we need to be WILLING and believe we can!
We CAN . . . I am optimistic about this and it is why I put so many hours into the effort!
We do have a great city, but our reputation has been tarnished internationally and our businesss community beaten up, repeatedly! With the right decisions, we will take back our city, streets, parks and neighbourhoods !
If the hundreds of Lethbridge citizens/business owners never banded together to shut down the SCS and the illegal LOPS tent setting up in parks the downtown would be over-run with addicts and homeless (more than you can imagine), more businesses would be shuttered with owners families devastated and it would look more like Vancouver DTES.
It takes who believe they CAN! We CAN!!!

Last edited 1 year ago by ewingbt
Dennis Bremner

I think I would share your optimistic forward looking impressions if the NDP did not support harm reduction and the nonprofits make their most money seeking that support. Add to that the complacency and protectionism by the majority of Lethbridge Ratepayers where the approach is “do nothing, unless it affects me” and you have a combination that is deadly.
Then of course you have the added bonus of the cities mandate to work directly with the nonprofits who are promoting a “Southern Alberta Rehab Facility under the direction of the CSD within the city.
It is not SSIG that came up with the need to serve “wider regions” while calling it a Community Care Campus, it was CSD. When asked to define “wider regions” mum was the word!
We have far greater issues as I am sure you are aware, various communities surrounding us, are ensuring their “homeless” arrive here. We have become a destination for their attempts to state they have “beaten homelessness”.
We also recently became a destination from an out of province location which I will not go into until we see more proof. If that is true then we are way beyond platitudes and corrective behaviors and new approaches.
You can see how much of this even makes the local reps for the NDP agenda. None of them seem to be concerned that this is being planted in our downtown.
I was rather surprised at the poll that suggested things would not get better because AlphaHouse was now in control of the Blood Tribe Health. The Leth-Herald Poll stated 74% thought it would get worse. This demonstrates to me how disconnected people are from this issue. Blood Tribe Health is the only thing we have going for us right now.
This has gone way beyond corrective measures already and assuming the UCP approach will continue beyond the next election is just a tad to optimistic for me at this point. Harm Reduction is the life blood of the nonprofits, not the addicts. So they will go down fighting tooth and nail at every levels of government to ensure it stays. Right now, the only people that get front door access to all levels of government are the ones that want Harm Reduction to stay.
So this is not an uphill battle where fighting the good fight can be had. We are running out of time, and we are running out of access to people who can change all of this. Marshall Smith of the UCP has no issue whatsoever with jamming this in downtowns everywhere across Canada, in fact he is now the goto guy! Its part of his plan and as the Premiers Chief of Staff, we are at huge disadvantage. Its his way or the highway! Neudorf must think everything is rosy and on target because he also has voiced no opposition to all of this being downtown.
So by all means keep up the optimistic outlook, I will play the odds, and right now I am 80/20. 80% chance we are 100% screwed so the “We Can” is a great rallying cry, but as mentioned I have seen this before, many many times! My estimation is if we had any chance at all of stopping this, it was last summer.
If the NDP get in, we are 100% screwed, if the UCP stay, then assuming they do not change their philosophy which is to install into “every major city, using 7 Cities funding” a system based on Marshall Smiths vision, then we are also 100% screwed.
So its a matter of which 100% screwed you prefer I guess. We could debate this, we could also pull a Ms Phillips and spout off on how she will fix everything and does nothing!
We have a University with highly paid profs, who occasionally retaliate in the local paper on ideas that are not socialist. Yet, none of them have drafted a paper or done a study to determine a “made in Lethbridge” course of action that “Does no Harm to Anyone”! Why? They shoot from the lip as authorities but offer no way out!
If you have a plan, man we need that plan Now! If you want help contact me thru https://lethccc.com , but we are 30 seconds to midnight and ticking! I do not mind playing 2nd fiddle or sitting in the backrow and let a “Good Cop” take the lead. But someone has to move quickly or 80% becomes 100% in a flash!

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
pursuit diver

We are doomed if the NDP gets in! Vancouver Downtown Eastside will be here in this city and the downtown will be a slum full of dead businesses.

ewingbt

We elected this Council to end this mess and I am confident, with public involvement, their letters to Council and support they have had enough, we can do this.
You are right . . . if the NDP gets in, it will be a long, rough road to make change. I am not sure if we could take back our City in that case.
As you know and remember Dennis, we had to wait for the UCP to final listen to our concerns and shut down the SCS. That alone took 3 years, since I began to argue against opening it in 2016 when it was contemplated. I am growing weary and hoped that we would not be back in this same place and I could enjoy some peace in retirement.