June 25th, 2024

City restoring some parks dept. budget

By Tim Kalinowski on July 30, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

A seemingly straightforward decision on whether or not to raise Parks funding in the City of Lethbridge went a bit sideways as city council engaged in a philosophical debate about operational spending priorities.
The lengthy discussion during Tuesday’s council meeting was prompted by a motion introduced by Coun. Blaine Hyggen to increase Parks funding in 2021 by $100,000 and $404,000 in 2022.
Hyggen introduced the motion in response to about 100 complaints he says councillors have received from the public about the unsightliness of drought-stricken parks in some regions and weed-infested boulevards and other areas.
City council voted last fall to cut $500,000 from the Parks budget in 2021 and 2022 in order to fund a zero per cent residential property tax increase for residents.
Parks manager Dave Ellis warned residents back in June the budget cut would mean there would be more weeds and potentially unwatered areas in the city this summer due to the cutbacks.
Coun. Rob Miyashiro expressed his skepticism of the entire motion suggesting Hyggen was politically motivated in bringing it forth on the eve of a municipal election.
He was ruled out of order by Mayor Chris Spearman.
Miyashiro then suggested the majority of complaints he seemed to be seeing were due to the effects of drought and not to a lack of maintenance funding.
Coun. Ryan Parker responded he had heard the same complaints as Coun. Hyggen, and he was of the opinion council had “made a mistake” in taking away the Parks funding last year, and should move to restore it.
Councillors Belinda Crowson and Jeffrey Coffman both opposed the motion stating council made a conscious decision last fall to cut back on Parks funding to provide tax relief to Lethbridge residents. That all councillors, they said, knew full well that by making cuts in Parks and other areas of City operations to fund a zero per cent tax increase there would be consequences to service delivery for residents.
Coffman said he would prefer to see Parks thinking about the effects of climate change on the city, and coming up with new strategies to maintain parks in more arid conditions in the future. He said the budget cut received last fall should be seen as a challenge to Parks staff to think about doing things differently.
Coun. Jeffrey Carlson said he had concerns about allocating reserve monies to fund Parks operations for the next two years if the motion passed. He was reminded by Coun. Parker that the City does this all the time when it comes to things like snow removal and other seasonably variable operations.
Carlson also stated he was reluctant to allocate monies for Parks next year without knowing what the weather conditions would be like. He would prefer the next council deal with the issue when it has a better assessment of the conditions next year.
Coun. Miyashiro concurred and called for the motion to be split in two. A separate vote on the $100,000 in funding for this year and the $404,000 suggested for next year.
On the first part of the motion, city council voted 5-4 to increase Parks funding by $100,000 for this year to deal primarily with weed control in city boulevards and other public spaces, particularly foxtails. These funds will come from City reserves and have no further tax impact on residents.
Miyashiro, Coffman, Crowson and Spearman were opposed.
The second part of the motion, an additional $404,000 in Parks funding for 2022, was defeated 6-3 with only Mauro, Hyggen and Parker in favour.
Coun. Blaine Hyggen said he was surprised by the fierceness of the debate, but he would take the $100,000 as a win for residents this year.
“I think it is a great start to try to get our parks back to where they can be enjoyed by families,” he said. “And one of the biggest parts that was in discussion was foxtail. If we can get rid of some of this concern many people have been reaching out to me (about) that’s important. Hopefully this funding does mitigate some of those concerns.”

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Citi Zen

City Parks Dept has to focus on the slopes along highway 3 Crowsnest Trail within City limits. Dry, brown, uncut grass, meter-high weeds, and multitudes of dead trees greet visitors to our city. Doesn’t present a very good image of Lethbridge.
Most cities give a lot of attention to the slopes and green strips that greet visitors. Lethbridge only wastes money on trying to ressurect downtown, where visitors will never go.

And similar situation in Indian Battle Park, so many high weeds, deadwood everywhere. And a huge fire hazard there.

pursuit diver

Remember when this Council chose to move the Information Center from the corner of Scenic Drive and Mayor Magrath Drive, where people on holidays would hit that intersection coming into to Lethbridge and see the information and visitor information and were able to pull in with their RV’s and put it downtown, across the street from 2 old hotels, the Coalbanks and the Alec Arms, 1 block from Galt Gardens? Evidence that they don’t think! They have no clue! Visitors had no place to park their RV’s and we all know just what ‘sights’ they saw in Galt Gardens, streets and alleys downtown. That is what they wanted to portray for our city! What a portrait!
They election can’t come soon enough! 2 things to watch for: those wanted to support the arts and those wanting to bring in another SCS! Beware!
No more spending like your heads are in the big cloud of pot smoke!

Not An Oldman Yelling at the Clouds

As always, “pursuit diver” speaks without knowing the facts. The City did not “move” the tourist information centre anywhere. The building on the corner of Mayor Magrath Dr. and Scenic Dr. sits on City land, but was owned and operated by Chinook Country Tourist Association. When Tourism Lethbridge was created Chinook Country still occupied their building, so Tourism Lethbridge had to establish an office elsewhere. Chinook Country eventually relinquished ownership of their facility to the City and Tourism Lethbridge subsequently moved in.
This information is in the public domain, but “pursuit diver” is either too lazy to properly research issues or chooses to propagate false narratives.

pursuit diver

I have heard several comments about the state of our parks as well, some by people who just moved to Lethbridge.
I am thankful that we will be rid of Miyashiro in a few months! Council has seen attacks and outbursts by this Councilor, showing a complete disrespect for the process of Council and other Councilors, with one such case called a ‘dogfight’ during a debate on the SCS! Many cannot wait for the next election to get rid of those that can’t control their tongues and that blow money as if we had an bottomless purse!
Time for restraint in spending and in negative behaviors unbecoming of a Councilor!
We can spend tens of millions on downtown where we didn’t need the spending to revitalize, we just needed to treat the addicts the same way the average Johnny Q. Citizen would be treated, and not be allowed to sleep in our parks, use anywhere downtown they want as a toilet, mostly in front of businesses, and run free all night high on drugs and committing crimes, but we cannot spend $100,000 on parks where people are now trying to enjoy the outdoors and others they haven’t being able to get close to due to the lockdowns and COVID restrictions! ? ? ?
I am so happy we will see some major changes in Council in a few months! It is coming and we will see our streets taken back and the ‘drunken sailor’ spending stopped!
Move to Calgary if you want a $100 million performing arts center!

Last edited 2 years ago by pursuit diver
Not An Oldman Yelling at the Clouds

You must have had a tough life to cause you to be in such a constant state of agitation and dissatisfaction. You know little about addiction and almost nothing about what happens in Council.
Regarding your opposition to performing arts: Have you ever watched TV or a movie, seen a commercial, listened to music, etc.? If you have, then you should stop doing so now and quit supporting performing arts. Or continue doing so and expose yourself as a hypocrite