By Kuhl, Nick on December 5, 2019.
A City Core Safety and Security Evaluation and Strategy as well as a Galt Gardens Outreach Team are two new initiatives being added to the City of Lethbridge’s Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy (DCSS).
That’s if city council passes the proposed 2020-22 DCSS funding at their next meeting, set for Monday.
This past Monday, during a Community Issues Committee meeting at city hall, Andrew Malcolm, Urban Revitalization Manager for the City, identified all 18 existing initiatives as well as the two new concepts.
The DCSS is the City of Lethbridge’s response to concerns by the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), as well as the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and businesses and residents, of the declining perception of cleanliness and safety in the downtown and nearby areas.
It was developed and implemented in 2019 to highlight, co-ordinate and implement all the initiatives the City is doing, including initiatives such as the Diversion Outreach Team, the Clean Sweep Program, the biohazard cleanup program and the Lethbridge Police-led The Watch and the CPOs.
In addition to approved funding through the City’s 2019-22 Operating Budget, the initiatives in the DCSS as proposed will cost an additional $1,684,000 during the next three years, Malcolm says.
“Businesses have been quite vocal that they need these programs,” he said. “We’ve worked with businesses to figure out what the specific needs are. That’s reflective of the programs we’ve presented to council.”
Many of the initiatives within the DCSS were funded for one or two years within the 2019-22 City Operating Budget with specific direction to report back to council. Administration indicated the strategy would be monitored for effectiveness and a report back to the city manager and council would be completed at the end of the year ahead of future funding decisions.
“We want to work with the downtown businesses,” said Mayor Chris Spearman, adding the City does still need further assistance from the Alberta government for social infrastructure.
“We want to make sure people feel safe coming downtown. We need to restore that. We heard loud and clear people won’t come to events downtown unless they feel safe. We all have to build on a message of positivity and hope.”
Malcolm says the City Core Safety and Security Evaluation and Strategy would look at the downtown core, the 13 Street North corridor and the areas around 1 Avenue and 2 Avenue South between Stafford Drive and 13 Street. It would further focus on enforcement, security, outreach, cleaning, promotions, education, and built environment improvements. A Galt Gardens Outreach Team would potentially replace the current private security with a new program, of which specific details are not finalized.
Following a review of the existing initiatives within the DCSS, Malcolm says there is strong support from downtown and community safety stakeholders for the continuation and expansion of DCSS initiatives, programs and actions until such time that the critical social infrastructure is fully implemented.
“These programs are not maybe the big picture solutions that we as a community need,” Malcolm said.
“They’re not intox, detox or supportive housing. These are the programs that are assisting businesses and residents on the day-to-day issues that they run into related to the addictions and homeless problems we have.”
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