May 20th, 2024

Suketu Shah: Council candidate wants a safer community where ‘every voice matters’


By Tim Kalinowski on July 13, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski - City council candidate Suketu Shah formally announced he is running for election this fall at Taj restaurant downtown on Monday.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

City council candidate Suketu Shah says he hopes to inspire the local business community to take a leading effort in trying to confront some of the pressing social issues facing the city.
“We want council and the mayor in a place where we can make some stronger decisions to help those homeless people,” says Shah, who is vice-president of the local benevolent Gujarati Society. “Help our Lethbridge Police Service. Have people walking around the streets right now helping to make it safer. If we use our resources in the right way then I think there is a possibility we can make it safer, but it is work. It is work that needs to be done if we get the right council and right mayor in place.”
Shah, who moved to Lethbridge in 2014 and was previously a senior financial advisor with Scotiabank, says he, like many, was frustrated by some of the decisions taken by council in the past term, and he wants his family, and all Lethbridge residents, to feel safer in their community.
“We need businesses to feel safe and we need people to feel safe to come down and shop in our downtown,” he says. “We have an amazing Galt Gardens right here next to us, which I don’t feel safe to take my kids to play there right now because of a lot of different problems going on as well.”
He says, if elected, he would seek additional resources from council to fund more police presence in the downtown, particularly, and to look for creative housing options for the city’s poor.
“What I like is I saw something in Medicine Hat (Housing First) how they are dealing with the homeless people that are there,” Shah explains. “There are hardly any homeless people around right now. Finding small places around so people have someplace to live. And then the shelter we use (in Lethbridge) we can use in a different way because there are a lot of people who need that for the night. In Medicine Hat they started with small houses that are mobile houses. I would like to bring that idea. If we bring the businesses downtown together, and if businesses get stronger, they can fund those types of projects as well.”
“The province and city are not going to fund every project,” he adds. “We need our own community to respond as well. If they get better business, and they get better profits, they can share those, and hopefully we can find some right housing for them as well.”
A self-confessed “people person,” the affable Shah says he is running to represent and unite all Lethbridge residents. To this end, his slogan is “Every Voice Matters.”
Shah is also committed to representing the voice of Lethbridge’s Asian community during this municipal election.
“We do have a big Asian community here in Lethbridge, and we do have a big impact on Lethbridge,” he says. “I want to bring all of us together and make (the City) stronger- for us to be safer, nicer and stronger; especially on the business side. Our (Asian) community owns a lot of businesses, and downtown has a lot of businesses which for the last 18 months have been very down.”
Shah says he is also supportive of city council’s recent efforts to work on reconciliation with Lethbridge’s Indigenous community, and feels Indigenous people should have the same opportunities as all other residents within the city. He feels an Indigenous friendship centre, if done right, could help those reconciliation efforts.
“Only opening the centres, it doesn’t work,” he says. “You need to see what kind of staffing is there, what kind of people, what kind of knowledge is there. I think if things work in the right direction, those centres are always useful (for reconciliation).”

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pursuit diver

You have some interesting points and ideas, but there are some factors that may impact some of those ideas.
“…What I like is I saw something in Medicine Hat (Housing First) how they are dealing with the homeless people that are there,” Shah explains. “There are hardly any homeless people around right now….”
Medicine Hat never did have such a large shelter for the last few decades as Lethbridge did, attracting more people.
They didn’t have a SCS open that attracted addicts all over, including from Medicine Hat.
They do live next to the largest Indigenous community in Canada the Blood Reserve, or have 3 other communities nearby, where we see their people wandering our streets: Montana Blackfeet, Pikani, Siksika.
Although it seems like a good idea, Medicine Hat does not have the high Indigenous demographic Lethbridge has and has had, suffering the impacts from that for decades.
The problem is that we just have to say NO to vagrancy, while giving the addicts a choice: treatment, jail or as some other communities have done or continue to do, a ticket to another city! Yes, even other shelters will ship their homeless here, often using the Red Arrow or taxis. 
We do have a right to say no more vagrancy, no more dumping! Putting many of the people on the streets here, into homes, will only last a short time, because they continue in their addictions, parties, etc., while destroying the place they have been given to live. We have seen this on a regular basis!
We also need the area Indigenous communities to stand up and start taking some responsibility, instead kicking their people out of their communities, and they end up here.
We need to say no more! We have a right to stop this on our streets, especially since it comes at a high cost to taxpayers! We just need the right Council in place that will say, this is the City of Lethbridge, it is not a dumping ground for everyone’s problem people, nor is it a place where you get to run wild on the streets, doing whatever you want. Ignoring all the pedestrian/traffic laws, using the local business fronts and alleys as your toilet, sleeping where ever you want, taking what ever you want because you feel entitled/owed, disrespecting the very hand that feeds and clothes them!
Who has the intestinal fortitude to stand up for the citizens, for the businesses that have lost so much and put an end to this!

Last edited 2 years ago by pursuit diver