July 12th, 2024

Important items have kept city council busy


By Lethbridge Herald on June 15, 2024.

FROM THE HALL
Blaine Hyggen – mayor of Lethbridge

City council has been busy recently with several important items for the community.

 Earlier this week, council voted unanimously to provide the Lethbridge Housing Authority (LHA) with contingency funding of up to $1.05 million to support their new supportive housing project located at 416 Stafford Drive North. A groundbreaking ceremony was held earlier this year.

The City’s grant funding contribution will come from the Affordable and Social Housing Capital Fund, which had unallocated funds of $2.7 million available to support social and affordable housing projects. The City’s funding will be used as contingency funding and is conditional to the inclusion of key project features that are crucial for promoting safety and wellbeing.

On that note, as we know, Lethbridge is changing – and our strategies must evolve to meet new challenges and diverse community needs. A comprehensive update of the Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy (CWSS) has recently been completed and will serve as an important guiding document in the advancement of community wellbeing and safety.  The CWSS is utilized most directly by the City of Lethbridge to inform the funding disbursements from Federal Reaching Home (RH) and Provincial Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) funding sources.   

The safety and wellbeing of our residents is always council’s number one priority. Through several presentations in the past few months, we have had the opportunity to hear from our Community Social Development team on the need to make some strategic changes to serve our city more efficiently and responsibly. We are encouraged by their dedication and council is certainly optimistic for these positive changes.

Council will return to having staggered years for its Capital and Operating Budget deliberations. We recently voted unanimously to approve changes for the 2027-2030 capital and the 2028- 2031 operating budget process that includes the following: in 2026, conduct operating budget deliberations and approval of the budget for 2027 (stub year); in 2026, conduct capital budget deliberations for the 2027-2030 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) following by approval of the capital budget; in 2027, conduct operating budget deliberations for the 2028-2031 operating budget and for future budget processes, continue to stagger the capital and operating budget deliberations by one year.

Council recently approved an updated Gateway to Opportunity – City Council Action Plan that outlines the priories for the remainder of Council’s term. 

With the support of City administration, the priorities have been clearly defined and resourced to ensure these important goals can be accomplished. 

The mid-point of our term was a great time to reflect on all the work achieved so far and re-focusing on what we still want to accomplish. This update Action Plan is the guiding document that will help us get there.

 There is still plenty of water talk in the community. Recent moisture and cooler temperatures have added water to southern Alberta reservoirs. 

Levels in the Oldman, St. Mary and Waterton reservoirs are just under the low end of normal. While this is good news, there is still a long way to go.

 Temperatures will rise and moisture will decrease in the coming weeks. Demand for outdoor watering and agricultural irrigation will also increase.

The City of Lethbridge’s updated Water Rationing Action Plan (WRAP) is ready to deploy, if necessary. Council approved a necessary amendment to the Water Bylaw to update the WRAP from the 2016 version. Currently, we are not enacting the Water Rationing Action Plan.

 We ask that everyone continue to look for ways to voluntarily conserve water in their homes and businesses. We also want to thank the community for continuing voluntary conservations measures. We are monitoring the situation and will respond with mandatory measures if needed. If the WRAP is enacted, the City will inform the community with the cause and stage of water rationing, and whether it is expected to be short term or long term. Efforts will also be made to provide advance notification.

Council on May 28 voted unanimously to provide a letter of support, as well as $400,000 in cash/in-kind services, to support the Lethbridge Curling Club in its bid to host the 2026 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The event would be held from January 23 to February 1, 2026, at the ENMAX Centre and feature the top 18 women’s curling teams from across Canada, including at least two or three Alberta-based teams. 

The Lethbridge Curling Club and the community of Lethbridge has a strong history of hosting elite curling events. As we witnessed with the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, as well as all the other elite curling action held in Lethbridge, there would be significant social and economic benefits to hosting an event of this magnitude.

There is no bidding fee paid to Curling Canada and no money changes hands until all accounting is done after the event in 2026. If the bid is unsuccessful, there is no financial impact for the City. Curling Canada is anticipated to announce the host city in January 2025.

As City crews and contractors are working on the annual road and infrastructure maintenance around Lethbridge, the City is encouraging residents to stay up-to-date. Our online WebMap is a one-stop-shop of information for City-led construction, closures and ongoing projects happening around Lethbridge. Launched in January this year, the online platform was designed to enhance accessibility and streamline information for residents. 

The map provides accurate and up-to-date information on everything from road closures to playground upgrades. The WebMap can be found at the top of the City’s website homepage, under the news ticking banner, Closures, Repairs and Improvements WebMap.

As crews and contractors work to upgrade and maintain the streets and roads around the City, motorists are asked to slow down and pay attention to signage to keep crews and themselves safe. Residents can also stay informed and engaged with all City of news by subscribing to receive News Releases, Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and Our Stories directly to their inboxes. Subscribing is as easy as heading to lethbridge.ca/subscribe and following the prompts.

On June 1, more than 400 people, who became Canadian citizens during the past three years but were unable to attend their swearing-in, joined MP Racheal Thomas, MLA Nathan Neudorf and I for their long overdue welcome to Canada. It was a great event.

In the past week, I have also attended the ceremonial review of the 2296 Lethbridge Army Cadets, a ceremonial review of Air Cadets, as well as the local 80th anniversary of D-Day event at the Cenotaph.

 Congratulations to the Lethbridge Bulls on their 25th anniversary season that just started! Apologies to the Lethbridge Bulls if they must replace their radar speed device after my first pitch at the home opener!

As with Bulls games at Spitz Stadium, there are a whole host of major summer events and occasions in the next several weeks including:

* Henderson Pool now open (with a full public opening on June 28)

* Downtown 6 Street Block Party on June 15

* Lethbridge Rotary Dragonboat Festival June 21-23

* National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21

* Lethbridge Pride Fest on June 22

* Canada Day on July 1

* Street Machine Weekend July 12-14

As always, be safe and kind to one another – and go Oilers go! It’s not over yet (depending on when you read this).

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ewingbt

“The safety and wellbeing of our residents is always council’s number one priority.”
Mayor Hyggen, I know you mean well and believe your city employees understand this statement, but it appears some just do not agree with you.
Today, the Downtown 6 Street Block Party was on and downtown was very busy and parking hard to find . . . it was great, but no police! Several vehicles were broke into and I witnessed one person open the rear door of a canopy on a pickup and steal a bike, it looked expensive. I called LPS immediately. No police came, and I saw one LPS vehicle drive around a few blocks and head away from downtown towards the police station. It was a great day for the addicts/criminals to go “shopping” in people’s vehicles while they were enjoying the event. Police seemed to disappear late afternoon, completely.
Then, while I was watching TV around 11pm, I heard what sounded like metal on metal banging, so I looked out the window and saw a young addict hitting doors, windows, the parking payment pedestals, and anything else with the bar. I watched for about 20 minutes and then he disappeared at Petro Canada and the banging stopped, for awhile, then I heard more banging and some screaming from him and now he had a friend, who had a type of weapon, common to criminals,what looked like a rock in a sock and he was now hitting things. Once in a while the first person would chase a car screaming at it . . . they moved all the way along the block stopping along the way and then stopped before the end of block, doing a crazy dance in front of the windows, then screaming at a truck and chasing it, losing a shoe and continued to hit things. The first person took one shoe off and through it at a window and then started banging the sidewalk, walls, windows with it . . . I called the non- emergency LPS number, they asked me the address of the complaint, my phone number, then told me to go online and fill out the form . . . NOW this was ongoing damage to property, but they are not going to respond . . . I said there is no time to fill out this form . . . she asked, is there $10,000 in damages? I said no! Not yet! They were not going to respond, so I said I guess we will have to stop this ourselves since there is no police! I hung up!
This is not the first time no police have been around on a weekend downtown!
I guess it ties in with what Regulatory Services stated at the task force meeting, when they said, we don’t want a police state here! But living in a lawless neighbourhood if fine I guess!
Well that task force is called the Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force for a reason and if what we witnessed downtown today and other days is not LAWLESSNESS, then why are we paying you!
When police are not there to protect and serve, then we just sit back and allow some businesses to be damaged that already are paying the price for these issues? I am sorry, but I am very angry with what I have heard at the last task force and what I witnessed June 15.
Do we call the RCMP? Do we buy bear spray? Or maybe call the fire department to hose them down?
Why do we pay police and Regulatory Services?
I know Mayor Hyggen that you as a politician can do nothing by law, to get police to act, but making such a statement just doesn’t coincide with what I have heard and witnessed this week!
I respect you and appreciate the tough job you have and wouldn’t want your job, but as you can tell, I am frustrated. I wonder just how they would respond if this was happening in their neighbourhood!

Last edited 26 days ago by ewingbt
R.U.Serious

I’m enraged when I hear that businesses are being damaged and on the off chance that it isn’t more than $10,000, don’t call police, however file online. I’ll be asking questions because I own a downtown business! I appreciate your in-depth comment and, given that I know you, I have faith! I recall standing with you one evening as you protested against the tent in park that was set up after the Supervised Drug Consumption Site was closed and was allowing addicts to consume drugs in this illegal tent, while supplying them with equipment to do drugs, and unlimited syringes. The peace officer for the City of Lethbridge Regulatory Services and the police both did nothing. For what reason would we say we are paying them? They issued a large number of tickets after public pressure to shut down that tent, and a court case was necessary to enforce the laws. However, the City of Lethbridge Regulatory Services did not confirm that the Edmonton law firm hired to represent the City would be present at the court case. The case was dropped in view of them not appearing as such. I will check the agenda minutes of this committee and perceive how the ‘police state’ remark was expressed, yet subsequent to seeing past issues overlooked by this division, it seems it should be shut down or as in business, under new administration.We are far from a police state and those who state such have never been in countries who are true police states. Ignorance abounds!
 When people think they won’t fire me, they sometimes don’t follow the policies outlined. This office might need to be completely reorganized at some point or disbanded! Tidy up the deadwood. 
Now, the police. After all the money that was spent on this block party to attract people to the city core and the fact that people who came to the event had their property stolen after their vehicles were broken into, it’s easy to see why we can’t get people downtown.
 More importantly, who do we rely on to protect our downtown businesses if we do not have police? Maybe the Girl Guides of Canada or the Boy Scouts of Canada? or perhaps the Senior Citizens Organization’s assistance safeguarding our city? I thought the establishment of this new lawlessness reduction committee to address the lawless activities in downtown would be helpful; however, I now realize that clearing out some of the deadwood at city hall is what is required! 
Legislators are not permitted to advise police how to go about their responsibilities, yet when administators don’t tune in, do their duty, they ought to be replaced. The core business owners have had enough and will never again permit the activities of criminals to destroy their livelihoods, we have hit the wall and frustrated.
the academics who pushed the new Marxist concepts and progressive policies which call for less police or at times defund police should be examined and scrutinized for the damage these policies caused. 
The country has finally woken up and is moving away from those policies, which have allowed gangs and thugs to take over our cities. The costs to businesses have been very high, and in order for our taxes not to be wasted, officials that are unwilling to perform their duties and perform their jobs require change. 
That’s how business functions and thrives. The first step is good management! I will make my voice heard to our city leadership on these issues and appreciate your Herald comment!

ewingbt

👍

Last edited 24 days ago by ewingbt
Montreal13

That’s seems to be part of the problem- it will never be happening in his neighborhood- the cops will make sure of that.

R.U.Serious

Many on our city council are working hard to resolve the issues in this city, to be clear!

Last edited 26 days ago by R.U.Serious
Montreal13

Do you have a record of their actual votes on these issues? Although I know council has handed over more and more direction and control of these issues directly to various community services agencies. Who voted for and against more transfers of power? Most of council don’t want to take the heat or accountability on these issues. There seems to be considerable skill in telling people what they want to hear though.

Lethrez

Hope the massive property tax increase we have just been hit with with actually go towards more policing and ridding the downtown of the presence of addicts and crime. I certainly hope it won’t be put towards more horrific bike lanes (which don’t get used enough to justify) that have turned our downtown into a rat’s maze of trip hazards and crammed parked vehicles into driving lanes. Money should have been spent on fixing our city, not creating new problems where there were none before. I regret voting for the current Mayor.

ewingbt

This Mayor was one who helped rid the city of the SCS. If he had his way, we would not have the current issues on our streets. He was a proponent of the encampment strategy and numerous other programs that are positive for our city.
I agree the bike lanes were a fiasco! People are not using them, even pedalling their bikes on the sidewalk right next to them or using 5th avenue because there are less starts and stops.
When you are biking, you do not want to start and stop! 7th avenue is an ideal street for biking, especially with families, yet it has low numbers of cyclists on it . . . what is worse, is if they decide to continue the 3rd avenue plan, they will add more traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, not just slowing down traffic after reducing lanes, but cause start and stop issues for cyclists. 2nd avenue has 20 percent of the vehicle traffic, it is wide and there would be no need for traffic lights or pedestrian lanes adn there are less traffic lights.
But, going through both school grounds would even be better, then moving to 5th avenue to come out at the Civic Center, maybe?
Why would you want to intermingle heavy traffic with bicycles, especially if it were a family with kids?
I am not agains bike lanes, but I am against putting a chokehold on a major thoroughfare, going east-west that truck traffic needs to supply the businesses, when there are better alternatives.
Lethbridge taxpayers alone see over $11 million annually of their property tax dollars go to the addict crisis, with millions more pumped in from provincial and federal tax dollars! The bike lanes are a drop in the bucket compared to what is being spent to counter the impacts of the crisis!
Lastly . . . I would add that many of the roadblocks that prevent actions to clean up our streets come for the lack of will to do so, fearful of reprisals from the NDP and Indigenous. It is okay for Indigenous communities to banish their young from their communities and put them on the killing fields of Lethbridge for us to deal with though, while they still get paid by the federal government to social support programs for the people they banished and more of our tax dollars are spent dealing with the issues!
There are leaders that lack the will and the Mayor is not one them!

Last edited 24 days ago by ewingbt


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