January 19th, 2021

2020 year in review: October


By Herald on December 31, 2020.

Supporters form a human wall around the side of the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society tent after a protestor attempted to dismantle it at a media event at London Road Park. Herald file 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

OCTOBER

OPS appears at Police Commission
Representatives of the Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society made a brief presentation to the Lethbridge Police Commission about what their purposes are in the community, and what they intend to do going forward. Group spokesperson Kaley Ann Beaudoin told commissioners they have applied for a legal exemption from Health Canada to offer sanctioned overdose prevention services in Lethbridge, but in the meantime would continue to operate as an unsanctioned OPS site despite some community opposition.

LPS won’t support Phillips’ appeal
Lethbridge Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh says the Lethbridge Police Service will not be supporting Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips’ appeal to the Law Enforcement Review Board (LERB), nor her request for a public hearing, on a discipline decision made against two LPS officers who admitted to undertaking an unauthorized surveillance of her in 2017 when she was Alberta’s Minister of Environment.

Vigil sheds light on missing and murdered Indigenous women
Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing and murdered were remembered in a vigil. The Sisters In Spirit Vigil honoured the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirited and brought awareness to the violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

U of L moves up to second in Maclean’s rankings
The University of Lethbridge has achieved its highest-ever position in the annual Maclean’s University Rankings Report, placing second overall in the primarily undergraduate classification. Moving up three spots from its fifth-place ranking a year ago, the U of L bettered its previous best standing, a third-place ranking that it occupied for six consecutive years, 2013-2017.

Morning fire damages westside apartment building
Residents of a large westside apartment complex on the 300 block of Highlands Boulevard West will be seeking temporary shelter this weekend after an early morning fire did substantial damage to their building. According to the Lethbridge fire department, the blaze began just before 8 a.m. on a second-storey outside balcony of one unit in the complex and quickly spread up to the third floor into the attic, eventually fully engulfing the roof of one whole section of the building.

Man charged in fatal highway crash back in custody
A Lethbridge man for whom police have been searching since he disappeared while on bail in June is back in jail after being arrested late last month. Wesley Brian Phillips, who is in custody at the Calgary Remand Centre, was wanted in connection with a fatal car collision last year. A warrant was issued June 12 when he failed to show up for court, even though he had, through his previous lawyer, been ordered to attend court after he was a no-show for a docket appearance the week before.

Shandro won’t overturn decision
Minister of Health Tyler Shandro will not intervene in an Alberta Health Services decision to end its local EMS dispatch contracts in Lethbridge, Calgary, Wood Buffalo and Red Deer. “My decision is not to overturn the AHS decision,” he writes, “and I look forward to supporting them and your municipalities during the transition to ensure that emergency health services can improve.

LPS chief makes pitch for programs
The Lethbridge Police Service presented its quarterly report to city council on Monday, but also took the opportunity to get in an extra pitch to retain three programs brought in over the past few years for trial runs: The Watch program; the Community Peace Officer program; and the PACT (Police and Crisis Team).

Versteeg set to do ‘Battle’ on the ice
Kris Versteeg is lacing up the skates to do battle again but this time it won’t be in front of 20,000 fans at a National Hockey League game. Instead, the retired 34-year-old Stanley Cup champion and Lethbridge native will be skating for a televised audience in the CBC series “Battle of the Blades.” Versteeg and his professional skating partner Carlotta Edwards are among eight teams competing in the series for a $100,000 grand prize which will go to the winner’s charity of choice.

Alberta health-care workers walk off job to protest cuts during pandemic
Hospital and other health-care workers across Alberta, including Lethbridge, walked off the job Monday to protest recent cuts by the United Conservative government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guy Smith, president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said in a news release that members are trying to defend jobs and protect the public health-care system.

Vocal opposition against coal mine
Opposition is heating up against the proposed Benga mining company Grassy Mountain coal mine near Blairmore as the Joint Review panel starts to consider whether or not to approve the project with the opening of a public hearing.

Coaldale council rejects mask bylaw
Coaldale Town Council strongly suggested local residents and business owners should consider wearing a mask or face covering when out in public as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the region, but stopped short of implementing a mandatory face covering bylaw by a vote of 6-1.

City tops national crime index
Lethbridge once again ranked first in the annual Crime Severity Index (CSI) for Canada in 2019. Although the city did not have the highest score for violent crime in the country, and is ranked as the 26th-worst urban jurisdiction for crime in Canada, (down from 15th in 2018), Lethbridge did see an overall increase in crime of about 2.23 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018.

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