June 16th, 2024

Options still open for future of Bowman building

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 9, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

City council by a narrow 5-4 motion voted against a motion by councillor Jeff Carlson to rescind a Feb. 15 decision to have administration prepare and develop a competitive RFP process that considers the divestiture of the Bowman Building.
That February motion called on administration to report back to council by May 24 on options for the building including its possible use as the home of the Blackfoot Resource Hub.
But Carlson, who was absent from the February meeting, called on council to rescind it due to interest in having the building be used as home for the Hub.
Three speakers made presentations to council saying the Bowman should be used for the Hub. Those speakers, including Mike Bruised Head, Blood Tribe councillor Travis Plaited Hair and Opokaa’sin executive director Tanya Pace-Crosschild told council the Bowman is meant to be a community facility and the wrong message is being sent to the Indigenous community by looking at selling the building.
A sale, it was pointed out by several members of council, is just one option being considered for the Bowman.
City manager Lloyd Brierley told council several potential options are being considered to house the Hub and the Bowman may very well end up being the preferred choice. But he said there may be options that are better.
“The location is still up in the air,” acting mayor Rajko Dodic stated.
The original motion on Feb. 15 was made by councillor John Middleton-Hope and it was approved giving administration the mandate to consider options for the Bowman including its sale.
Carlson wanted council to reconsider the divestiture of the Bowman saying “I do applaud council’s desire to be action-oriented but sometimes taking the time to be thoughtful is necessary and important. Doing right is better than doing it right now.”
Dodic reminded council “the intent of the resolution of councillor Middleton-Hope in his motion of Feb 15, 2022 was to bring back essentially options for council consideration to determine whether or not they would be interested in the Bowman Arts Centre at that time. And that in fact no decision was made about divestiture of the Bowman on Feb. 15.”
May 24 “is the time this could actually be considered and dealt with when we have all the informatiion with respect to the process that at least is contemplated by administration,” Dodic said.
Middleton-Hope said “there’s no indication whatsoever at any meeting, at any discussion either in camera or outside of camera that indicated that this building was going to be sold and it would not be used for the purpose we have been speaking about today. There are other options that are available. This is a business decision. We have a fiduciary responsibility to all of the citizens of this community and that includes examining all of the assets the city has. That’s what we’ve asked administration to do.”
City manager Lloyd Brierley told council “we want to work with the Blackfoot and look at all of the available options, the Bowman being one of them. I think there are some other potentially viable options as well that might be equal or better. There seems to be a lot of focus on on the Bowman, I think there are other options that are potentially equal or better than the Bowman,” he said.
Bruised Head told council in the late 1960s and ’70s when the friendship centre movement arrived in Lethbridge, “looking at those 50 years, we are edging toward a very excellent relationship with the community so the public and Blackfoot perception and the thought of the rejection and the motion against that was very questioned, not only by us but leadership from the Blackfoot community.
“Whatever you do here it radiates like a pebble you throw in a quiet pond. It reaches the boundary” of the Blood Reserve, he said.
“Never think once that what you say and do here is just urban,” he added.
“Everybody has been trying to have some input how to deal with the opioids. And this is going to be one area that will provide counselling, job opportunities, mental health work, et cetera, for the urban people that you see everybody starts criticizing them, especially chamber of commerce and I don’t blame them. But this was an avenue to address those urban issues, front and foremost.
“All of you have to live with that,” he told council of any rejection perception in the community.
Bruised Head said the members of the Blood Tribe spend a considerable amount of money in Lethbridge, using the figure of $200 million.
“We’re people to reckon with in terms of purchase power,” he said.
He said if the city isn’t going to let the Bowman be used for the Hub, it needs to provide another location.
“Put Lethbridge on a good map,” he said.
“We’re still striving on this one hand and kind of mixed message on the other hand,” saying if the hands are put together council will get tremendous support from the First Nations.
“If it’s not the Bowman arts centre, and if you provide another centre, good. But here’s the thing – what if another seven, 10 years buys Bowman? You have to face the music because if there’s no buyers, then that perception of dividing the city again is going to stick with you. So you better sell the building, get a buyer. If not, what we’re saying then, well, why go through all that effort?
Plaited Hair told council they have a challenging job and his role as a councillor for the Blood tribe is “working towards a better future for our people. And all of that includes, like yourselves, economic development, social problems we face, education. We have a challenging job ahead of us, you as city council and those of us who represent on the Blood Tribe council and Blackfoot Confederacy and other first nations…
He said many people have put in a lot of time and effort “to get the job done done. Then unfortunately like in most cases, leadership is where we get stuck.” He said they’re dealing with three levels of government and “it gets very frustrating when good people with good intentions put in so much work for a common goal and it only takes one individual to put a stop to all of it. That’s very sad….as far as the Bowman Arts Centre is concerned, I was part of the initial talks when we were first talking about the Blackfoot Hub.
“Right now, you got to make up your mind what you want to do. If you want to work with us, I am more than happy to work with you and I’m sure I can speak for the rest of my colleagues,” said Plaited Hair who was given the blessing to be the unofficial liaison between the Blood Tribe and the City, a job he said he’s been doing for the last 10 or 15 years.
“Unfortunately we’ve been stalled and I hope we can get over this,” Plaited Hair added.
Cross Child told council there will be far-reaching implications if the Bowman is not used for the Hub.
“It is not merely the rejection of that particular building but an assertion of this council’s leaders to create barriers to relationship building so desperately needed in the current climate of intolerance, both locally, nationally and internationally.
“The reality is that since the settlement of your ancestors on traditional Blackfoot territory in the 1880s, your relationship has always been one-sided, pursued as one of economic benefit, not social benefit. Since our ancestors’ first contacts, our role in your community has been performative, dancing at openings, at Brier Cups, at rodeos and parades, but never relational and never reciprocal,” she said.
“The decision not to open the Bowman to the Indigenous Hub isn’t merely about that one decision but about a decision to allow NIMBY to be endorsed at a leadership level,” she said.

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Thank You Council . You narrowly made the right decision and refused to be intimidated by those who think the way to respond to not being given all they want is by insults and threats. The HUB may still find a home at the Bowman, but membership in the COMMUNITY of Lethbridge extends beyond the indigenous minority and the best interests of that entire community are not defined soley by race as some of these speakers seem to think.


I blame the community planning department in part for this. They have spent a lot of time with the Indigenous community on this. They should have made this very clear to that community that these issues eventually go through council. Yet another example of city departments thinking they can call the shots. Is this in part why are last city manager left? City departments need to have their hands slapped over this or heads should roll.. They are not suppose to be running this city. That’s why we have elections.
Just one factor to consider: if the city sells the Bowman it will receive considerable property tax for that location. This is important. The expenses the city has now have not been sustainable for years.
What have these Tribe leaders done or ,are doing to address these issues on their own reserve,before these Indigenous feel compelled to leave the reserve?
Apparently there is several homes on the Reserve that are boarded up and the occupants have been kicked out? Why? Were these occupants creating trouble with drugs and violence? Were they not paying their rent or mortage payments to the Blood Tribe council? If the Tribe Council kicks these people off the reserve where do they go? Whose problem do they become? Who gets blamed and shamed if this issue isn’t addressed exactly the way the Tribe Councilors want the city to handle it?
I am very glad this council or at least some of these councilors are not going to be blackmailed by a minority group.
Plus city departments have done this before- backed council into a corner to get their way. Council has to take back the reins.

pursuit diver

I am very concerned with the forceful, perhaps passionate push by the Blackfoot to purchase this building to use for a Resource Center for the homeless and addicts. I wonder if they live in Lethbridge or understand the high cost that downtown has already paid in the last 6 years of this crisis. During the Council meeting it almost sounded like we owed them and if we didn’t allow it then this Council would damage a relationship that the City took decades to build! I am sorry, but the taxpayers of Lethbridge have paid tens of millions of dollars in the last 6 years of this crisis for all the extra services required to deal with this, as well as EMS/Fire/Police, the SCS, the revitalization to try to bring citizens back to the downtown core which is about in total is over $20 million itself, as well as all of the other issues that cost all of us.
It is pretty easy to sit in your First Nation communities and dictate what Lethbridge should do! 85-90% of the people on the streets are indigenous and many had dysfunctional families in those communities, but of course that is all our fault! The blame game is alive and well and I am tired of it!
We all are responsible for our own actions and if we live wrong, it will have a bad outcome. I have been on indigenous communities across Canada and locally and the lifestyle that many choose is what endangers them, putting them at risk. It is not our fault.
How does watching the actions from the cause of addictions play out on our downtown help Reconciliation? It only angers the citizens! The speakers for the Blackfoot must all live on their own communities, because if they lived here, they would know the devastation that has occurred downtown and spread through out the city!
No to the Resource Hub in the Bowman building! In fact take the Alpha House shelter and the Indigenous Resource Hub and put them at Kipp on the Blackfoot Nation Land, which is only 10 minutes from downtown!
This being held hostage by guilt and shame has to end! I didn’t commit crimes against the indigenous people and myself and my previous generations who were from here always had a great relationship with them.
These attacks that are constant have to end and our streets have to be cleaned up and taken back from the sights residents have had to deal with and the racist accusations when they get got doing something wrong.
If you want change, you want to save your people, then it all starts right in your own homes, taking responsibility for your own actions and teaching your children to respect everyone, instead of teaching hatred and blaming non-Indigenous for your plight!
We need to take back our downtown and our city and the Indigenous are welcome, but need to stop the blame game and work together to move forward.

Last edited 2 years ago by pursuit diver
pursuit diver

We have bent over backwards, forwards, sideways, whatever to work with the indigenous but it never seems to end. To enter into our elected officials Council Chambers and threaten to take away their names, and that they are all on probation shows the complete disrespect they have for us and lack of understanding on just how their indigenous issues that started in their communities and spread to our streets has cost this community. We have lost our good reputation internationally, being called a city of drug addicts, even in the mini-series Pure, they cartels said they were moving to Lethbridge!
Threats will get you nowhere! Let me remind you that the settlers were massacred on the prairies and atrocities occurred by your people, so you are not innocent.
Treaties were signed, in faith that allowed you to live in peace and today we pay over $17 billion to support you along with many other costs that come up! You spoke of $200 million you spend in our community, but at what cost?
We pay taxes federally, provincially, and municipally, monies that also end up supporting the Indigenous. Our community has paid a high price, including many downtown businesses that lost their livelihoods in the last 6 years due to your issues becoming our issues!
We continue to try to Reconcile as you say, but you continue to demand more and more! This is the City of Lethbridge, and incorporated city that was built by the blood, sweat and tears of many hard working, taxpaying citizens, it is not a part of the Blackfoot Confederacy or land! Understood!
Enough is enough! If you want a relatioship with us maybe try working together instead of ‘give me or else’!
I think all should listen to what was said in this Council meeting on March 8th, 2022 to understand my anger and frustration after all we have done for the Indigenous to be shown such disrespect with continued comments that we seem to be on their land!
This is not the first time disrespect had been shown to this city by Blackfoot leaders!

Last edited 2 years ago by pursuit diver