By Lethbridge Herald on January 8, 2021.
Mayor Chris Spearman told reporters at press conference on Thursday that in spite of his impending retirement from municipal politics this fall city council still has crucial business to deal with over the next 10 months before the current term expires.
“The work of council is not complete,” Spearman stated. “We have a capital budget to review in May. We have done quite a significant reorganization of council and its committees, and we have some policy issues we want to deal with.
“We were (also) embarking on an advocacy initiative,” he added, “and we will have to see how that works. Right now the (provincial) government is in a little bit of turmoil, but we have to make sure that needs of the City of Lethbridge are effectively communicated.”
Spearman noted the impending showdown with the province over EMS dispatch coming next Tuesday when the current AHS contract expires, and he had a blunt warning.
“If the province goes ahead, it will be a disaster,” he stated. “Four previous health ministers have said centralization of dispatch does not make sense, and it is going to result in lower services for cities like ours. This particular government, and this particular minister, is just ignoring that.
“I cannot see residents of the City of Lethbridge supporting this government if ambulance dispatch goes ahead,” Spearman concluded.
Spearman said whoever comes after him as mayor, and whoever is elected as the next council, they must continue to be strong advocates for the City’s needs to the provincial government.
“The new mayor is going to have to be someone who can unite council,” Spearman said. “Can you imagine how much further we might have been ahead if everybody on council was advocating for the services we need? If everybody was saying, we need supportive housing? Instead what was happening is people were promoting division in the community. And when you have a divided community, it is easy for the provincial government to do nothing.
“We will have challenges on the economic front,” he concluded. “We will have challenges on the social front, and we will have to deal with issues this council won’t be able to deal with before the end of its term.”
Spearman also said it was important that those coming after this current council bring forth a strong vision on how to address the pressing social issues we continue to experience in the City of Lethbridge.
“Anyone who is running will have to lay out what their vision is to address the issues and challenges we have in the city,” Spearman emphasized.
“The ones that we haven’t been able to address the last eight years. How are we going to address poverty? How are we going to address homelessness? How are we going to address addiction? Anybody running in October, there are no easy solutions to any of those, and we will have to work co-operatively with the provincial government to get solutions.”
The nomination period is now open for those who might be potentially thinking about running for city council and mayor this fall.
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