July 23rd, 2024

Mayor delivers final State of the City address

By Greg Bobinec on January 29, 2021.

Mayor of Lethbridge, Chris Spearman delivered his State of the City address Wednesday morning, in a virtual event hosted by Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. Herald file photo by Ian Martens@IMartensHerald

LETHBRIDGE HERALDgbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

Mayor of Lethbridge, Chris Spearman delivered his State of the City address Wednesday morning, in a virtual event hosted by Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor of Lethbridge since 2013, Spearman announced earlier this month his intentions to retire from office this year. During his state address, he says he will continue working hard for the community until the day he leaves office.
“I think everybody knows that you don’t get anything done as one person and there were a number of very successful projects,” said Spearman. “I was fortunate to be the mayor, and have people working with me to achieve them, there were some milestone projects that were completed in the last eight years.”
Notable milestone projects from over the last eight years include the University of Lethbridge Science Commons building, the $430 million Cavendish potato processing plant, as well as the downtown Park ‘n’ Ride Transit Terminal, which Spearman noted to be a great impact on the city.
“I never want to overlook that there’s people in our city that don’t have their own vehicles, people that rely on public transit who previously had to wait outside in the cold for the bus,” says Spearman. “Some of those structural things are great accomplishments, but they certainly were done together with people who worked here at the City and people out here in the community to make that happen.”
During his address, Spearman emphasized how proud he is of the work the city and staff have done to address issues of reconciliation, and looks forward to the work that continues with it. The mayor noted the adoption of the Blackfoot word “Oki” as the official City of Lethbridge greeting, as well as council’s approval allocating $435,000 to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls for their efforts in reconciliation.
Although there have been many positives throughout Spearman’s career as mayor, he didn’t shy away from addressing the areas of the city that are struggling, such as addiction, mental health and poverty.
“I understand and can plainly see that our city is dealing with complex and serious social issues, but we have shown a real resilience in times of hardship in our city,” the mayor said. “Until we get the full scope of needed detox, intox, supportive housing and treatment facilities that our city desperately needs, we will continue to be required to react as council and as a community to ever-changing social issues related to drugs and poverty.”
Spearman said with these complex issues, he believes everyone has similar want’s, but accessing support for those services has been a challenge.
“We want our community to feel safe and clean, a place we are proud to call home,” he said.
“We also want those impacted by the drug addiction and poverty to get the support and care they need. Lastly, we want to see action to make this happen. We’ve been struggling for eight years, asking for those services and trying to get something in place to assist those vulnerable populations and ease the social issues in our city.”
With challenges aside, Spearmen mentioned the continued hard work of local organizations, charities and businesses that have stepped up to help out on resolving Lethbridge’s social issues.
“Due to the hard work with and collaboration with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown BRZ, Alberta Health Services, and likely many of you here today, we are seeing a change,” he said. “From the clean sweep crews that are out tidying and cleaning our streets first thing in the morning, to The Watch teams out patrolling and we are dedicated resources to affect the change.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has placed its challenges in every community across the globe, including Lethbridge, and Spearman gave his praise to the effort of city council to address the safety of residents, being one of the first municipalities to adopt a face mask bylaw in August 2020.
“We knew this was an important piece in protecting the health and safety of our community and making masking a social norm in the city,” said Spearman. “We also did this to help protect our local businesses and establish a safe environment so they could keep their doors open.”
Although the city could face more funding challenges in February, with the provincial government facing issues related to COVID-19, Spearman says he is optimistic for the growth and future of Lethbridge as it welcomes the completion of the new west Lethbridge fire hall, as well as the city hosting the 2022 Brier curling event.
The mayor finished his State of the City by expressing how he plans to continue to provide his full service as mayor until he leaves office, but is excited to spend more time with his family upon his retirement.

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