May 30th, 2024

2020 year in review: December

By Herald on December 31, 2020.

Rudolph and Frosty wave at passers-by among the Christmas lights display this week along Scenic Drive South near the Sugar Bowl. The display at the home of Paul and Sharon Fogtmann, which had been on hiatus for a number of years, has been lit up again during this season aiming to lift the spirits of those who travel by. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

The Herald takes a look back at the Lethbridge stories that made headlines in 2020 in a month by month series running through this week to New Year’s Eve

Mask bylaw extended
City council has extended its temporary Mandatory Face Covering and Masking Bylaw until Feb. 23, and will hold a public consultation to debate the wisdom of extending the bylaw into even later in the new year at the Feb. 11 Community Safety Standing Policy Committee meeting.

Charge against LPS officer withdrawn
A Lethbridge police officer is no longer facing a criminal charge in relation to an incident earlier this year at the police station. Const. David Easter was charged in August with one count of assault in relation to the incident in the short-term holding facility Feb. 9. The reason for withdrawing the charge was not provided during the brief hearing.

Mustard Seed to open sober shelter
Calgary-based The Mustard Seed will be opening a new 45-bed sober shelter service in Lethbridge starting this month, and is looking to open a permanent supportive-housing facility in the community sometime in 2021. The new shelter will be open 24/7 to serve the needs of the local homeless community.

Province announces $11M in funding for airport upgrades
Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf announced Friday, on behalf of Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard, $11 million in provincial funding for airport upgrades, and $900,000 more for a facelift to Festival Square Market Plaza.

Lethbridge County passes temporary mask bylaw
Lethbridge County council passed a Temporary Mandatory Face Covering bylaw by a vote of 5-2 during a special meeting. Lethbridge County follows the example of the City of Lethbridge, the City of Medicine Hat, the MD of Taber and the Town of Taber in passing or reaffirming municipal temporary masking bylaws this past week.

Mustard Seed’s plans presented to CIC
The Community Issues Committee of city council heard a presentation from community group The Mustard Seed about the organization’s plans to open a 24-hour sober shelter and a separate permanent supportive housing facility in Lethbridge. A rezoning proposal letter obtained by The Herald from The Mustard Seed and architect Alvin Reinhard Fritz to nearby residents confirms the location the group is looking at is 1303 Mayor Magrath Drive South: the current location of the Ramada by Wyndham.

Lethbridge Soup Kitchen to merge with The Mustard Seed
The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen will officially become part of The Mustard Seed as of next March, and will eventually discontinue food service at its current site when The Mustard Seed officially opens its sober shelter, drop-in site and community kitchen at its new downtown location.

Lakeview residents oppose Ramada location for The Mustard Seed facility
Lakeview resident and Lethbridge Lakeview Community group member Allan Jarvie says his group is not opposed to The Mustard Seed providing supportive housing for the city’s homeless community, but is opposed to the organization operating such a housing facility in its neigh-bourhood. “We feel the Ramada location is absolutely wrong,” he says, “and we’re not sure there is that much demand. They say they are going to turn it into 86 residences. That puts a strain on the immediate neigh-bourhood.”

Police ready to enforce face-covering bylaw
Lethbridge Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh says the time for education on the masking issue is over as the Lethbridge Police Service moves toward a greater enforcement phase of the City’s temporary face-covering bylaw in conjunction with new public health measures announced by the province earlier this week.

New local bookstore finds a home in downtown Lethbridge
Starting a new business during a pandemic may not seem like the best investment, but for one southern Alberta family it was an adventure of a lifetime to a successful launch. At the start of 2020 Scott Warris, his wife Penny, their daughter Willow and their family cat Hugo were on their way to start their dream of opening Analog Books Inc., leaving their life behind in the Crowsnest Pass to start from scratch in Lethbridge.

Housing development to benefit city seniors
The federal and provincial governments have announced funding for a new 64-unit development to address the need for affordable seniors housing in Lethbridge. The mixed-income development will include 32 units with rent set at 20 per cent below market rates and the other 32 at market rental rates. More than 90 jobs will be created.

City council passes revised budget
City council passed the revised 2021 and 2022 budget without further amendment during Monday’s council, bringing to a close a lengthy process which began over three weeks ago in Finance Committee. On the final day of deliberations two proposed amendments were defeated. Coun. Blaine Hyggen’s motion to rescind a $1-million cut to the police budget was defeated 6-3, with only Councillors Hyggen, Ryan Parker and Mayor Chris Spearman opposed. Coun. Jeffrey Carlson’s amendment to reduce a proposed city council pay cut from 10 per cent to five per cent was defeated unanimously.

Police chief won’t cut number of LPS officers
Facing a $1-million cut in funding in 2021 and 2022 Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said the LPS will have to do some to-be-determined trimming in certain departments, but would not be cutting the quality of police service to Lethbridge residents.

Shelter outbreak has some homeless fearful
Despite increasing cold, a lot of Lethbridge’s homeless community are opting to remain outside through the night as fear continues to grow after a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the Alpha House-run Lethbridge Homeless Shelter. Alberta Health said it was notified of 27 cases linked to the Alpha House outbreak. Of these, 17 are active and 10 recovered. The outbreak was declared on Nov. 26. However, Alpha House said it has effectively addressed the COVID-19 outbreak and continues to screen rigorously and provide quarantine options as needed, says the organization’s executive director Kathy Christiansen.

Ward Bros. awarded contract for Exhibition Park expansion
Lethbridge & District Exhibition has awarded Ward Bros. Construction Ltd. of Lethbridge the $62-million contract to manage construction of the new 268,000-square-foot Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre.

ARCHES will not face charges
The Lethbridge Police Service will not be laying charges against ARCHES after its forensic investigation of the former supervised consumption site operator accounted for $1.5 million in provincial funding dollars previously unaccounted for in the July audit of the organization. The province says it still has concerns and won’t be restoring funding.

Griffiths resigns as chair of Lethbridge Police Commission
In a surprise move, Lethbridge Police Commission chair Simon Griffiths has resigned from all his duties on the commission. Griffiths did not elaborate on what was behind his decision, but it has been a challenging year for commissioners.

Charges not warranted in ‘Storm Trooper’ incident: probe
The Lethbridge Police Service has received the findings of an external, criminal investigation into the “Storm Trooper” incident. The investigation by Medicine Hat Police Service, which included a review by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, has determined that criminal charges are not warranted.

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