By Lethbridge Herald on March 24, 2020.
City council approved just over $3 million in short-term funding to continue vital programs for the City’s most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis.
Council approved the temporary funding framework during Monday’s council meeting to support 15 local organizations and help them maintain services such as transitional and permanent supportive housing with the SASHA and Family Ties, the Clean Sweep program, the Salvation Army Furniture Bank and Wood’s Homes CORE Employment Youth Shelter, among others. Many of the organizations’ contracts are expiring at the end of March and that is why City staff deemed it necessary to bring it forward for consideration on Monday, the last city council meeting in March.
The funding, which comes from provincial grants and not City coffers, is slated to last for the next three months at which time it will be at the discretion of City staff to continue it for up to nine months without council approval or bring it back to council for review as needed.
“We know many of these services are essential to our community, and some of them are even more essential in this terrible time,” said Coun. Jeff Carlson, who sponsored the motion.
“In these times these organizations just don’t need any more doubt,” agreed Coun. Mark Campbell. “I think this is something we have to pass.”
Coun. Blaine Hyggen also agreed these services were essential, but did not like giving City staff the ability to approve additional months of support beyond the three-month funding period without council approval.
“These are essential services in our community,” he stated, “but currently the way the resolution sits I am not comfortable with … We don’t know what’s happening right now with the times we’re currently in, and I am more comfortable with the three months. But the way the current resolution sits, I cannot support it.”
Council passed the motion by a margin of 6-2 with Hyggen and Coun. Joe Mauro voting against. Coun. Rob Miyashiro was absent for the vote.
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