July 24th, 2024

How much criticism is warranted of any government?

By Lethbridge Herald on February 2, 2024.

Al Beeber – managing editor

City council and administration can’t win sometimes. Whether it’s on snow removal, downtown bike lanes, or the handling of the Exhibition situation with the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre, the City is always in the line of fire from taxpayers.

Ditto with the provincial and federal governments, regardless of who is in power.

It’s part of their gig. Taxpayers have a right to speak out and be upset over matters that they find frustrating and unfair.

Recently, we’ve run some polls aimed at getting feedback from the public on local issues that affect them.

The tone seems to be that residents aren’t too thrilled with the way the City is being governed and operated. Granted, these polls aren’t exactly scientific and I suspect some results have been impacted by mass lobbying to push a viewpoint.

That was particularly true, I believe, when we had a poll about the Chinook High football team last fall. I know for fact that people connected to the team were urging others to vote.

No doubt that happens on other sensitive issues. And I wouldn’t be surprised if readers are using multiple emails to send roasts and toasts to the paper. The tone of writing shows that and I’ve long been convinced one person has been using our forum  to advocate City of Lethbridge viewpoints using different addresses. 

This type of behaviour – on any subject – comes across as bullying to be honest, but that’s the way some people are in this world. They only see their side and nothing else matters. And they’ll do anything they want to demean others who disagree.

I’ve been in the news business a long time and I can recognize within a couple of sentences if the same person is responsible for two or more submissions, whether they be roasts and toasts, letters or journalists’ stories. Ditto for posts made on social media pages where some have left a long trail of antagonism.

And that’s why I think I have a good idea – as do others – who may be responsible for a fake City of Lethbridge Facebook page that is intended to be parody but is not that funny. In fact, it’s confused numerous people into believing the snarky posts were written by City staff.

Recently, we were shocked to see copyright photos of ours used without permission which is another reason I suspect I know the identity of the page creator because this has happened before on another platform.

So how much blame does civic government and bureaucracy deserve for matters that people see as problematic in Lethbridge? 

How much blame does any government deserve for the way it deals with situations in our province and country? How much anger is due to people not willing to adapt to change?

I wonder that all the time and I think the best way to answer it is for residents to put themselves in the shoes of the people making the decisions at any level of government. It’s a point brought up by councillor Ryan Parker during council deliberations about the Exhibition. Would residents vote any differently than council did? 

They all carried an enormous weight on their shoulders during a tough debate on an issue that could have financial implications for years to come.

It’s a question residents should ask themselves on many issues.

 How would we handle snow removal and what basis do we have to make the decisions on how it’s best done? 

Would bicycle lanes have been installed downtown if any of us were in governance? Apparently not, given the impressions I’ve seen but is that taking into consideration the future growth of the city and those who rely on two-wheeled transportation?

Right now, those one-lane streets with the bike lanes are a pain in the driver’s seat, to be honest. And I don’t envy anyone who parks on 7 St. and hopes to back out without relying on the kindness of a good Samaritan willing to hold up traffic.

While the optics of these lanes may not good right now but what about 20 years from now? And what about the frustration of those downtown in the meantime who use vehicles – gasoline or electric? 

And how realistic is it to consider that those bike lanes will be more used when the westside is the fastest growing part of the city? 

Are people just going to start riding bikes en masse across Whoop-Up Drive to patronize downtown because special lanes have been built? Who is the City specifically targeting with these lanes and how many?

 More likely westside residents will use e-scooters before bicycles if they don’t own a vehicle, or want to reduce emissions. 

But perhaps planners know more about west Lethbridge than we do. Is it possible a time will come when the majority of westside residents won’t have to commute across the river to work?

City council and administration have the unenviable task of considering the future while the rest of us perhaps live in the moment. That’s true on any civic matter from land use planning to street cleaning and parks maintenance. It’s true at the provincial and national levels, as well.

Elected leaders have to consider what might be in the best interests of Lethbridge moving forward. The rest of us don’t – unless we run for council or land a job in City Hall administration. 

Instead we get to leave the hard work to them while we can easily and comfortably sit on our sofas penning missives that are critical without having to carry any responsibility. We’ve got it easy. But showing leadership isn’t easy. And while we all have the right to criticize leadership, hopefully we can do it with an open mind.

And hopefully, we in this city will all express our opinions at the polling booth come election time because that is our opportunity to implement change. And if we aren’t willing to take the time to exercise our right to vote we shouldn’t be taking the time to complain, anonymously or otherwise.

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Unfortunately, Mr. Beeber, it is the hard work of tax paying residents who fund boondoggles made by City Hall.

Dennis Bremner

Pretty simple answer Al, don’t allow aliases. If people do not post under their real name they don’t get to post.
I don’t submit roasts/toasts under any other name and I don’t run facebook pages. Allowing people to vent under an alias allows them to say what they would not normally say under their real name.
If you think you will get less comments if real names have to be used, then obviously the person does not feel strongly on the subject.
If the person is afraid of repercussions from City Staff, then maybe thats the issue that should be addressed before anything else is addressed in this city.