June 16th, 2024

Council not the bad guys over funding decision


By Lethbridge Herald on March 15, 2023.

OUR OPINION

Back to the drawing board. 

And once again city council is the target of criticism by those who feel it should have supported administration’s request to allocate federal Reaching Home funding to Streets Alive at last week’s council meeting.

Council voted overwhelmingly to reject administration’s request, calling into question the Request for Quote process.

Why? Because six members of council didn’t get the answers they needed to support the request.

By rejecting the request, council is not a villain – it exercised jurisprudence, choosing not to spend federal monies until it could be assured that the outreach services could be delivered as required.

In initiative C 11.2 which council passed as part of its unanimous support for the 2023-26 budget, it clearly set out two streams of funding for outreach programs. One of those was Indigenous-specific.

Administration, however, melded the two streams into one without the knowledge or support of council and did not in its deal with Streets Alive specifically state an Indigenous component was required. The reason for this quite bluntly was as clear as mud if you watched council proceedings.

Council instead heard that such a component would be assured through contractual provisions and that the contract would be monitored. 

That wasn’t good enough for the majority of our elected officials.

Council specifically voted during budget deliberations to have two outreach teams – not one – and administration should have consulted with council before making its own decision to combine the two. 

There doesn’t seem to be any clear or justifiable reason for the overreach by administration.

There have been rumblings in the community for some time about City administration’s approach to dealing with the homeless situation and encampments, which surely have reached the ears of mayor and council. 

Has administration been working to help fulfill council’s vision to address homelessness and encampment issues in Lethbridge or are there different ideas on how to deal with them? If any philosophical conflict exists that conflict should have been recognized and resolved before now so action can be taken to provide needed outreach for those in the camps.

If homelessness wasn’t so often being politicized everywhere some positive accomplishments perhaps could be seen here and elsewhere.

Of course this whole discussion would be moot if the UCP ever decided to quit fighting windmills and actually put some effort into helping its municipalities deal with a complex problem. 

Funding supportive housing initiatives for the vulnerable – vulnerablities which certainly are at times self-inflicted – would go a long way to resolve the problems communities in the entire province are dealing with.

Yes, Green Acres Foundation is getting money to help seniors but they are only one segment of society which needs housing. And Lethbridge Housing is getting money from the province, both of which are much-needed and appreciated steps in the right direction.

 More is needed, though. And hopefully that help will come.

But Jason Kenney and now his successor Danielle Smith seem to have different priorities than helping municipalities combat the issues of addictions and homelessness, priorities which need to change if the UCP has any hopes of remaining in power because even their own supporters are getting fed up. 

Many will argue those with addictions need to help themselves and a strong argument can definitely made for that but the reality is not all will go to treatment, even when their lives are at risk. 

Not all will live within the rules needed to get a place in the supportive housing continuum. But we still can’t ignore their plight. 

Addictions have many victims including the families of those who struggle. 

And while individual families can – and often have to – abandon the addict to save their own lives, should society do that on a global scale? 

Not all homeless are addicts or dealers, which is a misconception that some feel unfairly compelled to perpetuate. Some people want help and we cannot ignore them.

Nobody in City administration should have ignored council’s directives and budget initiative C 11.2 showed clearly what one of those directives is. 

With LHA soon being empowered with the task of trying to end homelessness here, hopefully that agency will be able to work in unison with mayor and council to find real solutions moving forward. Hopefully, with a shared vision some real progress can be made. 

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buckwheat

”more is needed” means more from you. Easy to blame Smith for NOT solving an NDP created drug and homeless problem. Funny, create a problem and then complain someone else doesn’t fix it. Immature thinking. Only thing to agree with, council needs to put administration in its place, fast.

Montreal13

I wonder if the Herald helped themselves with this piece of mostly rubbish, with their subscription problem?
I want to support my local “community” newspaper. But they make it real hard sometimes. I want to support balanced reporting.
Province gave the city $1 million this past winter to help the city deal with those out in the cold. City couldn’t figure out what or where to apply it. Gee the civic center ( city owned property)? Oh no the NDPers didn’t want it in their backyard. Put it on the north side they said. If there was a civic center on the northside the city would have found a use for the mil. But because there currently isn’t the city couldn’t or didn’t use the money so it went back to the province.

biff

rather simple to blame the ndp for everything – because everything was just so close to perfect ever before. and, while quick to blame the ndp for all our issues, likely including at that time the bottoming out of the oil sectors – EVERYWHERE ON PLANET EARTH (who could think a party could have so much influence and power so as be able to pull the rug on oil everywhere, let alone a cdn provincial party governing a land that amounts to a blip in terms of pop and economic power). did the ndp have answers that solved our issues?; hardly. however, now that we had a similar number of years of cons again since, they not only have had no answers, the problems have gone ever more exponential still.
so, brilliant it is to slam the ndp for not being able to fix all our issues that came as consequence of awful con govts over decades (including what amounted to the theft of a vast amount of public wealth via oil barons and corrupted officials, and, leaving the public with a mess that the smiths of the province see as our cost to try and clean up); so brilliant it is to not hold those decades long con govts accountable, while blaming the lack of con govt action and solutions on a few years of ndp. perhaps examining the facts and having a rational take is just too hard for too many.

buckwheat

Well we never had the drug and homeless issue in the current magnitude until the NDP mandated
SCS and the mess that went with it. So there is that. Notice how Phillips is silent on the drug addiction and homelessness in HER riding. Still stuck on SCS’s
work despite all evidence to the contrary.
Yeh the NDP are responsible for this province wide s—t show and you are in denial.

Last edited 1 year ago by buckwheat
ewingbt

You made some good points, but also some of your comments show you still need to do more research on the issues.
I often combine addicts/homeless in the same statement to save long explanations and define the difference, but many homeless are not addicted as are many addicts the troublemakers on our streets. There are differences.
The ones that are leaving piles of feces on your doorsteps, writing graffiti on your building, damaging your building, intimidating staff are not the truly homeless, but are the addicts or drug users (again there is a difference) who are committing crimes during the night, the gang members and criminals who have been allowed to grow with few deterents and become more lawless and anti-social, and they are increasing the severity of their crimes as they have been conditioned by society that they will not be charged because they are part of the ‘most vulnverable’ . . . society is now paying for not enforcing the laws.
You are right in trying to define/separate the groups and some of the impacts, which should include Indigenous communities who banish their troublemakers (which is against human rights), pushing them onto our streets where many die.
The more housing we provide, the more people will come and even BC is now dumping their addicts and homeless on us, along with other Alberta cities because they hear we are putting together a plan for a combined rehab/palced housing program similar to one that failed in Phoenix called a campus but the Shelter.
The NDP destroyed this city with the SCS and it’s failed harm reduction programs which after 20 years in BC has proven a complete failure with thousands of lives lost because of it. The Liberal government enable addicts and promote drug use while the NDP support them.
Get educated!
One of the best ways is to watch a video I just watched called ‘Vancouver is dying’ . . . Take 1 hour and watch it!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT8OU8Yhs_s&ab_channel=AaronGunn
You state the Streets Alive administration should have told Council of the changes . . . maybe both parties should have communicated better!
Streets Alive is a local organization that has dealt with the issues on the streets, with treatment and half way houses for decades, but instead this city brings in outside non-profits who have no ties or respect for the community.
There should have been better communication on both sides and this Council has been pretty good typical government buck passing. They are supposed to advocate for the citizens of this city and collaboration is need between levels of government they should be advocating us, not saying it is not in their lane!
Council was warned almost one year ago by me of the growing/increased issues of agressiveness in the addicts on the streets and dangers of the encampments, but they do not have a plan yet.

Last edited 1 year ago by ewingbt
biff

unlike the mtl and buck responses, yours has merit.

R.U.Serious

The most concerning issue on our streets obviously, is 70-80% native, large numbers of which were advised by their reserve band councils to leave reserve and that they are as of now not wanted in their communities/reserve. On the reserve, numerous people were subjected to sexual abuse, mental and physical abuse, frequently by close relatives and family friends.
Use it as it is! Despite the fact that federal funds continue to go to the reserves to support them, the band councils have pushed their problems onto our streets.
Since the natives are suing for everything nowadays, it is fair game to sue them and the band councils for the millions of dollars it is costing us to now try to deal with their issues they have pushed into our city.
To recover some of the expenses incurred by businesses and taxpayers, a class action lawsuit is required.
Our police and leadership have failed us and this is the only way we can recoup some of our losses.
I need to thank you for the link to watch the Vancouver is Dying video. Everyone should watch it!

Last edited 1 year ago by R.U.Serious

[…] In this case, the Herald came out in support of Council’s recent dunk on the Streets Alive outreach bid. Now, take a second and scroll down to the bottom of the story. https://lethbridgeherald.com/commentary/opinions/2023/03/15/council-not-the-bad-guys-over-funding-de… […]

Dennis Bremner

I wish people could keep race and politics out of these discussions, but its literally impossible. NDP did not “cause this”. NDP have the same lack of understanding on what should be done as , in Alberta’s case as the Conservatives or whatever we are calling the UCP today. NDP however never turns down a possible “business” that they can create more Union Members and permanent jobs for their voters even if it destroys our downtown.
The same goes with the Reserve. It is a well documented fact that Chief and his council are ones that prefer to deal with Addiction the easiest way, boot them off the reserve by closing and boarding up 72 homes and then allowing the Chief’s supporters to publish that Lethbridge is not doing enough to stop people freezing to death. There is no way to square that circle.
When the Friendship Center stepped in to house the people that would not follow even the basic rules of life, it was destroyed, broken toilets etc etc. The City had to come and get the people and remove then from the Friendship center.
The facts are, that “WE” the Blood and Lethbridge have a problem. People living on our streets did not come here because in the case of the Blood, they had some place to stay, that was taken away from them. So if there is anyone to blame, that blame falls on the Chief and his Council.
I do not blame our council because they are always responding to a fire they did not light. However, their response thus far has been to follow a 25 year old concept of accommodating people in our downtown., which will prove a death knell for Lethbridge.
I am pretty well connected with the Blood Elders, no meetings have occurred between our Mayor/Council and Chief and his Council. Which should tell you a lot about the relationship between the two.
Reasonable people that are concerned for their youth are not installed in the hierarchy of the Blood at the moment. Reconciliation has been boiled down to – “you fix our problem and we will rant from on high telling you we could do better” so you must!
So until the Chief and Council are gone what we have is people who represent Chief’s policies from afar. Some have the best intentions at heart, others just wish to pile as many people as they can in Lethbridge to ensure they do not have to commute to work.
Unfortunately, our Council is falling into the trap. They are being pushed from the reserve to get things done and the UCP is pushing facilities into the downtown.
Yesterday, Lethbridge Herald published a synopsis of what they believe the SSIG meant when their document was published and accepted by the CSSPC on the 16th. The big headline is SSIG wants some services out of town. Which is a rather placating headline that at best gives CSSPC more time to do what is going to be done.
Just so you are 100% informed, none of those “outside of Lethbridge services” include Addiction Sheltering. This will NOT move! So what they are describing is things that will not be duplicated. So StandOffs, Bringing the Spirit Home Detox will be used instead of a Detox downtown. Perhaps even some housing will be built on Blood but it will never be enough. So its through these kind of deceptive tactics that it is hoped you will not keep your eye on the actual services until presented for acceptance. By then of course, Lub3000 and all of the zoning issues will have been sorted out so that no legal challenge like Mustard Seeds attempt to get the old Western One building ended in failure because they had not written the LUB3000 properly
The CSSPC is playing a dangerous game in my opinion. They are continually saying they have not made a decision as to where things go, which is true, but they have made the decision we will be housing all of the addicted in our downtown, they just don’t want to say it until the last moment.
I spoke at the meeting on the 16th. Some are already criticizing me about my attitude. I come across as MAD in probably all definitions of the word. That is me…I am a chronic pain sufferer who chose 5 years ago to stop taking opioids because I was addicted. I have suffered chronic back, neck and hip pain since a military accident in 1989. I am in pain every every day, I refuse drugs and who I am is “who I am” I do not apologize for it, because its either come across as a prick, or come across as an addict. I choose prick!
When you are in pain 24/7/365 it changes your personality and you are always appear to be angry. When you speak in public, stress also contributes to the same problem.
But, what I spoke about is also an emotional issue that I do get Angry about! When we discuss Addiction, the army of lobbyists feeding on the Government teat come out of the woodwork. We never do enough for them, and never will. We get people tearing up when talking about the homeless and how their dream is to house everyone of them. This is what scares the residents of Lethbridge…so you are going to house the meth head who destroyed 5 houses before and has a criminal profile a mile long ….where? Next to me? where. So for as long as the Teary eyed houser’s do not separate people into categories, you will get an outcry from Lethbridge Residents especially when trying to sneak a shelter into one of your applications.
The Lobby group for Addiction is so vast it drowns out the “lack of a lobby group” for business/downtown residents. What I find amusing, and I really do find this amusing is the Downtown Businesses(south side of the tracks) appear to be supporting the Shelter area (formally called Burnside) as the place for sheltering, as if sheltering more people in the Northside will make things better in the Downtown? So they “think” that shafting businesses in the North of the tracks is going to be good for the South of the Tracks. How is that working for you so far with fewer people?
There is a difference between loosely sheltering people in an area and formally sheltering them in a Community Care Center. In one instance it’s like living in a hostel, in the latter the individual treats it like his/her home. So suddenly the Addict, now “lives” downtown and its “their home, not yours! They now have a base under which they can do the “Ninja night fighter thing” and organize their B&Es muggings etc at will all night long.
So once you invite the Addict into your downtown formally which is exactly what our Council is about to do. There is no asking them to leave, ever again, this is our DTES Vancouver in the making! So the decisions we make now is forever. This CSSPC meeting was the most deceptive I have seen in years. The fake study of an arbitrary bylaw/rezoning exercise of an unknown piece of land to modify LUB3000 is a snow job that I truly hope CSSPC did not think they got past me. Perhaps its fooling others, I do not know, but its not fooling me.
This is another reason why I was “Angry” they assumed I was an idiot, perhaps I am, but if they believe that, I would appreciate it if they would just say it, instead of playing this sneaky and deceptive approach to this problem.
Last point, my model predicts 622 homeless in this city by September. Over 500 of those will be addicted people. Why so many? Well now those living in Lethbridge’s “crack house’s” will come out of the woodwork wanting to get on the list for “their home”(or did you forget that we have about 1700 addicts in crack house’s in Lethbridge?). The model also predicts based on existing statistics that we will exceed 800 in less than 2.2 years after this September. So I would highly suggest Council get some of those wizard UofL people to run their own straw dog and come up with their predictions. Because if mine are accurate, I can say without out a single Doubt, welcome to DTES Vancouver part 2.
You may be saying what hogwash, how could we be as bad as DTES Vancouver? Well, lets do some basic math. We have about 10×10 to 12×12 square blocks of Downtown. Vancouver has about 20 times more downtown then we do. They have about 6000 addicts all stuffed into DTES. At 800 addicts in our downtown?…get your calculator out, see what you come up with. What’s your “Addict per square block number?
Just another word of non requested advice. Make your “shelter building” like the Mexicans build there buildings, keep rebar extended out the top floor (they do it for tax purposes) so you can keep adding floors later.
Lastly, if there is anyone willing to take my spot and standup for downtown businesses and downtown residents, you can have me website free of charge, you can have my plan, free of charge, you can take the helm from me, or you can sit back and watch me “be Angry”, your choice. I await your many emails at https://lethccc.com to replace me.
To the author of this letter. LHA in charge of housing is a bad idea. The city should be. I have my reasons why, and they can be discussed some other time this letter is already way way to long.
https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/AgendaOnline/Meetings/ViewMeeting?id=3831&doctype=2

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Bremner
biff

excellent take on the issue. after considering the two options at the https://lethccc.com/ site, it is concerning that the city seems set on the lining pockets approach rather than the native endorsed approach.