By Lethbridge Herald on January 20, 2024.
FROM THE HALL
Blaine Hyggen – Mayor of Lethbridge
Let me welcome you to the first Mayor’s column of 2024.
I write this monthly feature on behalf of Lethbridge City Council to keep people informed on matters of importance in the community, as well as to highlight achievements by members of our community. Amid the challenges we face in Lethbridge, I also really try to use this space to focus on the positive pieces and the good news stories we have in the wonderful city we all call home.
I want to start by thanking all of our City staff who were working in the frigid conditions last weekend and earlier this week in efforts to keep all of our systems on track and minimize any and all impacts as much as possible. From fleet services, who have been boosting vehicles and fixing frozen machines, to electric and water crews working to keep the lights on and the taps flowing to our snow removal folks, to our transit drivers, to our facility services team making emergency repairs at City buildings and to, of course, our first responders including Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services and Lethbridge Police Service.
We truly have some amazing and dedicated staff who help keep our city running every single day of the year. Thanks to everyone who has put in the extra effort in the last week to keep others safe and comfortable. It is noticed and appreciated.
I would also like to thank our community for helping each other out as Alberta was the coldest spot on the planet for two days.
During the weekend, the Alberta Electric System Operator asked all Albertans to reduce their consumption of electricity. I received several calls and emails asking what the City of Lethbridge does to reduce its usage. Well, during the extreme cold snap, we cut voltage across the city at our substations to reduce electrical consumption for the city as a whole. The directive to do so comes from AESO and makes up part of our emergency operations procedures.
The City of Lethbridge also activated its Extreme Weather Response Protocols to provide a safe and warm space for residents without shelter. More information here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/news/posts/winter-weather-triggers-city-s-extreme-weather-response-protocols/. All of the City’s emergency protocols are here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/emergency-services-public-safety/preparing-for-an-emergency/
In December, the Blood Tribe Department of Health, as leaseholder and operator of the Lethbridge Shelter, received $1 million in funding from the Government of Alberta to expand capacity to meet the need of those needing shelter throughout the winter. The City, as landowner of the shelter property, can confirm this work was completed and the shelter has had increased capacity since the beginning of December.
The City also approved up to $230,000 of Federal Reaching Home funding to support daytime drop-in programming during the winter months. This funding was awarded to Blood Tribe Department of Health to be leveraged with the Government of Alberta funding and corresponding expansion of capacity to allow for a 24/7 warming option in Lethbridge.
The Blood Tribe Department of Health has confirmed there is enough space at the shelter for those who need it. In working with the community organizations and social services that the City supports, these folks can encourage people to go to the shelter during these extreme weather conditions, but cannot force people to stay against their will.
Switching gears, and hopefully temperatures, one of the first big events of the year took place on Thursday morning, as the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2024 Mayor’s State of the City address.
Here are some of my opening remarks to the audience: “We are past the halfway point of this term since myself and Councillors Mark Campbell, Jeff Carlson, Belinda Crowson, Rajko Dodic, John Middleton-Hope, Nick Paladino, Ryan Parker and Jenn Schmidt-Rempel – several of whom are here this morning – took our oath of office and formed the current Lethbridge City Council. It’s been a great honour and privilege for all of us to serve Lethbridge residents – and this is a great Council.
Council will continue to work with our local elected representatives – MP Rachael Thomas, MLAs Shannon Phillips and Nathan Neudorf – and the other orders of government for the collective goal of creating a better Lethbridge and to advocate for the resources and funding our city needs to address key issues. We will push to further secure and advance our business sector’s needs, so we can be the first place investors and businesses come when they look to open new doors and new ventures. But we still have work to do.”
The presentation focused on six different sections: Top Priorities and Issues, City Finances, Major Community and Regional Partners, Some More Good News, Projects and Events Updates, and Closing Remarks. The full presentation will be soon available on the City’s website and Rogers TV Lethbridge will also have the video on broadcast and on its YouTube page.
The first Lethbridge city council meeting of 2024 will take place next week. We will be discussing several items, including the latest updates on the Lethbridge and District Exhibition, as well as water needs. See the full agenda here: https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/AgendaOnline/
I’d like to also remind people of how they can participate and view our city council meetings, as well as the Standing Policy Committee meetings. The entire meeting schedule for 2024 is posted on the City’s website and each meeting’s individual agenda will be published a week before.
The SPC meetings are also open to the public and we encourage residents to attend and register to speak. Inquiries or requests for an upcoming meeting can be submitted through this form: https://forms.lethbridge.ca/311-Forms/Council/Upcoming-Council-Meetings. For information on participation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All city council meetings and SPC meetings are livestreamed on the City of Lethbridge YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@CityofLethbridge
Other ways to stay informed:
Our City website at Lethbridge.ca, which includes the news subscription (for news releases right to your inbox) and new dynamic webmap closures page
Our engagement site at GetinvolvedLethbridge.ca, where you can follow and participate in engagement opportunities to help shape projects, policies and initiatives
311, via call or chat, to have your questions answered
Lethbridge Loop app for service reminders. Residents can download the free smartphone app to receive waste and recycling reminders as well as notifications for planned power outages, street sweeping and water main work
I am really looking forward to 2024 and think it will be a great year for our city and our residents.
As always, be safe and kind to one another.