June 18th, 2024

City council approves funds for Blackfoot Resource Hub

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 3, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Council has approved annual funding for the Blackfoot Resource Hub while at the same time reexamining details of the Bowman as the program's chosen site.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

City council on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion to provide nearly $500,000 in annual funding for the Blood Tribe/Kainai Nation to deliver the Blackfoot Resource Hub services.
The money comes mainly from the federal government with some coming from the province of Alberta. No city taxpayer money is involved.
The amount of annual funding is specifically $496,248. The motion also calls on the City manager and clerk to execute any further documents that may be required in regards to the Hub services agreement which expires on Dec. 31, 2024.
Councillor Mark Campbell, while addressing the motion, told council “it is money that was already there that needed to be reallocated and it’s critical funding for the Blackfoot Resource Hub.”
Mike Fox, Director of Community Services, added “it is critical infrastructure needed for some of our population in Lethbridge. It’ll be an outreach and help other services be able to see their services through the Blackfoot lens.”
He told council the Blood Tribe and the Kainai Nation were the successful bidders to provide the service. The city’s Cultural and Social Standing Policy committee was told recently that the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society originally was approved to allocate the funding but it had unforeseen organizational issues and was unable to fulfill the agreement.
A motion put forward by councillor John Middleton-Hope calling on the city to examine options for housing the hub aside from the chosen site of the Bowman Building sparked opposition from deputy mayor Belinda Crowson, who cast the lone dissenting vote.
Middleton-Hope’s motion calls for administration to report back to council on Feb. 15 on how the City determined the Bowman should be used for the Hub. It also asks the administration, referencing the city’s Asset Rationalization and Optimization plan which is presently underway, and the future Civic Commons Master Plan to provide information on proposed timelines and plans for selling the Bowman. Council also wants to know what the Bowman is currently being used for and who is presently occupying it.
Several councillors and Mayor Blaine Hyggen spoke in support of the motion while Crowson said the City needs to act now to deal with the homeless issue here.
“What I’m requesting out of this motion is for administration to be tasked with the responsibility of going back and evaluating the location that has been identified for this purpose. There are other potential uses for this facility, said Middleton-Hope.
“I think it’s important for administration to go back and to provide us with the rationale for the identification of the particular location that’s been identified. But to also look in terms of what other potential locations might be utilized for this purpose long-term,” said Middleton-Hope.
Crowson disagreed, saying during debate of the motion that Lethbridge only spends 15 per cent of what comparable cities do on social programs.
“And yet this a community that is still surprised that we have social issues and concerns. This is a city that is surprised when we know people are dying on our streets, that we have homelessness and we have many concerns.
“We know one of the ways that we need to deal with this is through social programs. And yet the city stands incredibly still in this area,” Crowson said.
She said the only thing that can stop the Hub from moving forward is “Lethbridge city council because for this Indigenous Resource Hub to go forward, a space is needed. And we have one, we have the Bowman which has been used by sports groups to run various games in the City over the years, it’s been used by children’s programs over the years and it’s been used by many other groups,” she said.
The purpose for the Bowman since the Allied Arts Council moved out, Crowson said, “is to use it for community groups and here we have a community group that has come forth that wants to partner with us. City council cannot balk, we have to get this moving and we have to show a commitment that other government levels have shown.”
Martin Thomsen, general manager of Community Social Development, told council in regard to Hub funding “we receive funding from the provincial government and the federal government all to address homelessness and we do have the specific pot from the feds that must be allocated to Indigenous homelessness programs.”
He said the provincial programs can be targeted to anybody in the city and “ultimately you allocate those dollars to make the biggest impact. Eighty per cent of our homeless are Indigenous so it makes to allocate the majority of our money to those efforts,” Thomsen said.

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So council wants information as to the current use of the Bowman and who is in there. Wants clarification on how the Bowman was chosen for this and if there alternative possibilities. The Deputy Mayor pulls the guilt card that we are cheap. The former are correct.