January 17th, 2021

2020 year in review: March


By Herald on December 29, 2020.

City council held its Monday meeting in front of an empty gallery with city hall currently closed to the public, instead encouraging residents to view proceedings online through the City's website. Herald file photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

The Herald looks back to the stories that made headlines over the past year with a month by month series running this week to the New Year:

MARCH
Layoffs coming to U of L
The University of Lethbridge is laying off employees and increasing tuition and student fees to cope with provincial funding cuts. The final bill for funding cuts to the U of L resulting from the provincial budget will be 6.6. per cent or about $7 million. U of L president and vice-chancellor Mike Mahon said U of L has little choice but to enact “significant” layoffs at the institution.

Lethbridge to receive drug treatment court
Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer was in Lethbridge to announce the formation of a new drug treatment court in the city as well as to announce funding for four additional officers to join the Lethbridge region’s ALERT unit to help fight organized drug crime.

Province to fund 18 more Blood Tribe addictions beds
The province will be funding 18 additional treatment beds at the Bringing the Spirit Home Safe Sobering Site on the Blood Reserve. Associated Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan confirmed the province would provide $6.6 million over the next three years to fund the additional spaces.

Province audits supervised consumption site
A team of auditors sanctioned by Alberta Associated Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan entered the ARCHES-run supervised Consumption site on March 5. The team was tasked with looking into alleged spending irregularities at the SCS.

19 layoffs among 42 positions eliminated at U of L
In response to the provincial budget released a week earlier, the University of Lethbridge has laid off 19 employees. With an additional 23 confirmed retirements and resignations for 2020/21, a total of 42 positions have been affected.

Air Canada suspending service to city
Air Canada announced it would be suspending service to Lethbridge indefinitely, as of March 31, one day after making a similar announcement about suspending service to Medicine Hat. Mayor Chris Spearman said his hope is Air Canada may once again resume service to Lethbridge once the COVID-19 outbreak is contained.

U of L to eliminate on-campus attendance
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the University of Lethbridge was remaining open, but classes were being cancelled through March 17 before the university shifts to its delivery of academic courses to a new model on March 18, eliminating the need for on-campus attendance.

College closing classrooms
Lethbridge College is following in the footsteps of other post-secondary institutions by providing an alternative online delivery model for educating students as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread.

City opens emergency co-ordination centre
The City opened its Emergency Co-ordination Centre on March 17 as it prepares to ramp up its local response to COVID-19, should cases begin appearing in Lethbridge. The move comes after the City ordered all local public recreation and cultural facilities closed indefinitely.

City declares State of Local Emergency
The City of Lethbridge declared at State of Local Emergency on March 18 in an effort to access additional resources and powers it will need as the COVID-19 outbreak intensifies.

City wants citizens to follow distancing rule
City officials are calling on local citizens to pay attention to the messaging around social distancing and the COVID-19 virus, and are contemplating more aggressive steps to ensure public compliance.

Homeless shelter moving into Fritz Sick gymnasium
The City of Lethbridge announced it would be temporarily moving the homeless shelter to the Fritz Sick gymnasium to allow for proper social distancing between individuals in the homeless community. “Within our business continuity plans, the Fritz Sick Centre has always been our backup facility for the homeless shelter,” said city manager Jodi Meli.

City laying off 248 part-time employees
The City of Lethbridge will be laying off 244 casual non-permanent and four permanent part-time employees while the COVID-19 crisis lasts. Those laid off include staff members employed at Lethbridge Transit as school bus drivers, and also those employed at the Lethbridge Public Library, the Enmax Centre, other closed City arenas and at facilities such as Fritz Sick Centre and the Galt Museum & Archives.

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