May 30th, 2024

Year In Review – 2021 Headlines July to September

By Lethbridge Herald on December 29, 2021.

Herald file photos - Conservative incumbent Rachael Harder, at right, takes part in a forum with Lethbridge riding candidates ahead of the federal election in September. Buses make their way past the downtown terminal ahead of the launch of the new cityLINK network which brought significant changes to the city’s public transit system. Premier Jason Kenney speaks to members of the Lethbridge business community and other representatives of the community at a luncheon hosted by the Lethbridge and District Chamber of Commerce.

Leading up to the new year the Herald presents a synopsis of the stories from Lethbridge and area that made headlines in 2021: 


Police cleared in Stormtrooper incident

The Lethbridge Police Service is closing the file on last year’s “Stormtrooper” incident after an independent investigation by the Medicine Hat Police Service provided no evidence of any professional misconduct by the officers in this case. “It was an unfortunate incident that negatively impacted both the young lady and our officers,” said Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh at a press briefing. “We included recordings of the two 911 calls (in our media release) phoned in by citizens as we wanted the public to understand and reflect on what information was provided to our police officers. The type of call they responded to, and ultimately why they approached the scene in the manner they did.”

Police chief responds on officer conduct complaint

Lethbridge Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh says an officer dealing with an historic sexual assault did not communicate appropriately when a complainant came in to ask the Lethbridge Police Service to re-open her case. “This was before my time, but by the time I got here the complaint came in, and I had ordered a Police Act investigation on the conduct of our officer,” Mehdizadeh told reporters. “That’s when I reviewed the file. Our officer, when the lady came to see if her file could be re-opened, he had reviewed the file, and there were notes from an investigation that was done at the time when she reported it. There was a report from the Crown that they didn’t entertain laying any charges based on the evidence they had at that time.”

Neudorf takes on challenge as UCP caucus chair 

Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf says he agreed to take on the challenge of sitting as United Conservative Party caucus chair because he wants to do everything he can to heal the cracks within the party which have emerged over the last year. “Believe me,” he says. “A number of my colleagues have called me crazy for putting my name forward, and accepting this role. It is challenging, but there is a sense of satisfaction when you can take steps forward and progress in terms of teamwork.”

Voters to have a say about third bridge

Lethbridge residents will have a chance to vote on a non-binding ballot question during this fall’s municipal election which will gauge the public’s desire to build a third bridge by 2030. “I think it is important to ask the citizens of Lethbridge if they want that third bridge built before 2030,” said Mayor Chris Spearman, who brought the motion before council. “That seems like a long time away. That seems like nine years away, but people have to understand what the process looks like. Right now the detailed design would be done in 2027 so the bridge could be constructed by 2030. So what are all the factors? Because you don’t get a bridge for free.”

Kenney addresses local chamber

Premier Jason Kenney spoke to members of the Lethbridge business community and other representatives of the community at a luncheon hosted by the Lethbridge and District Chamber of Commerce. In a 30-minute speech at the Sandman Signature Hotel to assembled guests an upbeat Kenney spoke about his excitement for the opportunities coming to Alberta now that the worst of the pandemic has passed. Alberta’s economy is starting to look up, said Kenney, and new investment opportunities were on the horizon. “I am hearing a lot of optimism,” he said. 

Southern Alberta loses a philanthropy giant

Well-known southern Alberta philanthropist and cattleman Cor Van Raay has died at Chinook Regional Hospital. Jennifer Petracek-Kolb, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Lethbridge, said Friday “his donation to the Y and his support of the Y has been foundational in our ability to serve the community in the way that we had hoped to for decades.”


Lethbridge police lay charges in alleged human trafficking ring 

The Lethbridge Police Service has charged 10 Lethbridge and Calgary men, including a Lethbridge physician and business owner, with human trafficking following an investigation conducted in partnership with the RCMP, the Calgary Police Service and Alert’s Human Trafficking Counter Exploitation unit. According to police, the men are members of an alleged human trafficking ring which sexually exploited girls under the age of 18.

Former employees make allegations against city council candidate

Several women are making allegations of inappropriate behaviour against city council candidate and local business owner Bradley Whalen. Tianna Collon was one of the first to come forward with allegations of unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate texts against Whalen on social media stemming back to when she worked as a bartender and waitress at his Coco Vanilla Galactic Cantina and Club Coco in July. She has since been joined by others on social media with similar stories. Collon told The Herald earlier this week her discomfort with Whalen began when she was hired as a waitress to work in his beer gardens during the Street Wheelers weekend. 

New cityLink network to start rolling next week

The city’s public transit system will look and operate differently starting on Aug. 25. On that date the new cityLINK network is being launched in Lethbridge which will see wide changes to service. City bus service will consist of fixed routes and an on-demand service for residents on lesser-used routes. That on-demand service will be available by calling 311 or by downloading the “Rides on Demand” app which is available for Android and Apple devices.

Piikani begins search for unmarked graves

The Piikani First Nation will begin the difficult and emotional task of searching the grounds of four former local residential schools for unmarked graves. The band announced it will begin working on Aug. 27 with SNC Lavelin, which has offered its expertise and equipment, to begin ground-penetrating radar sweeps of suspected sites where unmarked graves may be located. “Because we are just at the start of the project, we are having a lot more questions than we are answers,” says Carolynn Small Legs, special projects co-ordinator for the Piikani First Nation. “We hope as we go through the process, and after this first investigation, we will have more answers not only for the members, but also for media.” 

Miyashiro looking to run for NDP in Lethbridge -East

Outgoing city councillor Rob Miyashiro has announced his intention to seek the NDP candidacy in Lethbridge-East in the next provincial election. Miyashiro launched his bid to carry the NDP colours at the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization. A two-term city councillor, Miyashiro is currently executive director of the LCSO and says he has spent his entire career working to improve lives.

Alpha House withdraws rezoning application

Alpha House has withdrawn its application to rezone its existing shelter location from the Railway Relocation Lands Area Redevelopment Plan, and move it to the new category of Direct Control to enable new uses of the site. 


ER doctor warns of rising cases and hospitalizations in Lethbridge area

Chinook Regional Hospital emergency unit doctor Sean Wilde is warning Lethbridge area residents the hospital is seeing a worrying spike in COVID-19 diagnoses, and a recent ramp-up of admissions of those experiencing respiratory and other forms of distress related to COVID. “We are experiencing higher volumes of COVID patients and diagnoses at the hospital,” said Wilde, “including in the community and admissions to the hospital and the Intensive Care Unit. I just wanted to express a desire to make people aware that’s going on in case they haven’t been paying attention to the information.”

Council denies application to demo Bentley Block 

City council has denied the application of the current owners of the Bentley Block to have its Municipal Historic Resource status repealed in order to allow demolition of the historic structure.

Councillor and local historian Belinda Crowson made an impassioned plea to her council colleagues to preserve the Bentley Block during the city council meeting, and not to let it be lost to time like so many other buildings valued by the community have been lost to progress over the decades.

U of L joins eight other Alberta schools in requiring vaccination 

The University of Lethbridge announced it would be joining eight other post-secondary institutions across Alberta in requiring all students, staff, faculty and visitors be vaccinated against COVID-19 before being allowed on campus. The U of L joins the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, MacEwan University, Medicine Hat College, Mount Royal University, NAIT, SAIT, and NorQuest College in its mandatory vaccination decision.

Herald confirms council candidate has past criminal history

A Lethbridge city council candidate has past convictions for child luring, robbery, having his face masked while committing an offence, theft, two fraud offences, and committing mischief in the form of property damage when he resided in Nova Scotia. Court documents provided by the Nova Scotia Judiciary Office, and information provided by the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, indicate that Bradley Lawrence Whalen, also known as Bradley Patrick Allen Sampson, born Oct. 29, 1982, was convicted of eight different offences, and sentenced on April 11, 2006 to over three years in prison to be served at a federal penitentiary.

Harder re-elected for Lethbridge and “ready to go back to Parliament”

Conservative Party of Canada incumbent Rachael Harder was easily re-elected in Lethbridge despite a spirited challenge on the right from the People’s Party of Canada during the 36-day campaign, and a stronger than anticipated showing for the New Democrats locally on the left. “We worked hard,” said a beaming Harder at her campaign office as the polls reported her strong showing. “This was a quick campaign. It was 36 days long. My volunteers hit the ground running. They ran fast. They ran hard. They put in an incredible effort, and I think now tonight we get to celebrate the outcome of that.”

City going to ombudsman on dispatch consolidation

Lethbridge city council approved an Official Business Resolution at a Special Meeting on which would authorize Mayor Chris Spearman to sign off on a formal complaint to the Alberta Ombudsman about how the consolidation of EMS Dispatch has impacted ambulance service levels and response times in the city. The motion passed 7-0 with Coun. Rob Miyashiro absent, and Coun. Joe Mauro appearing to experience technical difficulties in communicating his vote to city council. 

Phillips calls for action to address doctor shortage

Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips has released a four-point plan she wants new provincial health Minister Jason Copping to implement within 30 days to address the doctor shortage in Lethbridge and other healthcare problems in southern Alberta. The NDP MLA and two women who have felt first-hand the loss of family physicians here spoke to media at the Galt Museum & Archives.

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