June 16th, 2024

Clean Sweep Program may receive annual funding in omnibus motion

By Lethbridge Herald on November 15, 2022.

Downtown Clean Sweep Program foremen Dave Bissonette Jr. (left) and Scott Ritter clean up leaves at Galt Gardens last fall. Herald file photo by Dale Woodard

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council on Tuesday in its capacity as the Economic Standing Policy Committee unanimously approved an omnibus motion brought forward by councillor John Middleton-Hope to move along the budget process.

Council is currently deliberating the 2023-26 draft budget and will be meeting daily through Friday at 9:30 a.m. in council chambers.

The draft budget calls for a minimum annual increase of 3.77 per cent in each of the next four years.

Before the SPC began its deliberations, Middleton-Hope issued a statement calling for an apology from councillor Belinda Crowson on Monday for a matter that arose during budget talks.

He said council is engaging in a collegial and collaborative approach to approving initiatives brought forward by councillors and “some of us are understandably very passionate about these initiatives. It is important we work together to achieve a budget that will sustain and enhance services for the citizens of this city,” said Middleton-Hope.

“However, when councillors call others names in public that is inappropriate so I call on councillor Crowson to offer an apology to this chamber. We can all do better, let’s ensure that we do,” he said.

It’s unclear what Crowson said but the councillor told the SPC meeting “if I said something that one of my colleagues took offence to I apologize. Certainly, I don’t mean to be offensive in my discussions.”

Late Tuesday morning, council went into a lengthy closed session before emerging shortly before 2 p.m. to resume public deliberations.

A resolution made upon resumption of talks stated “be it resolved that city council direct that the closed meeting discussions with respect to N1, N2, N25 and C7.2 remain confidential pursuant to Sections 17 (Harmful to Personal Privacy) and 24 (Advice from Officials) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

Items N1 and 2 referred to initiatives from the Communication and Engagement Evolution, N-25 is a motion which addresses an anticipated increase in demand for Access-a-Ride services which has yet to be addressed by the SPC, while C7.2 is an initiative proposing for the elimination of transit fares for seniors 65 and older and youth 18 and under.

The motions passed throughout the budget process by SPC are all aimed at transitioning several programs to ongoing funding through taxation.

One of those programs is the Clean Sweep Program, with Middleton-Hope’s motion calling for annual funding of $350,000 through 2026.

Council agreed to move it along with the proviso that people doing the Clean Sweep work be paid the minimum provincial wage or higher, which Community Services director Mike Fox said discussions are already being held with the contractor about.

The Clean Sweep program “seeks to maintain and improve the cleanliness and safety of Lethbridge’s downtown and surrounding areas. Services include debris cleanup; sidewalk sweeping; snow removal; biohazard and encampment cleanup; graffiti removal; basic landscaping and other needs. “Adding CSP to the base budget ensures continuation of an integral service that supports the cleanliness of the community and provides certainty to the service provider enabling the ability to better align organizational goals in the long-term,” says the motion.

In the omnibus motion, the SPC also approved the following:

* The continuation of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) grant which provides matching funds to support property owners with the costs associated with crime prevention improvements.

Cost for this is $254,600 in 2023, $56,100 in 2024, $57,900 in 2025 and $59,800 in 2026.

* The transition of one-time funding to ongoing funding for Lethbridge outreach programs at a cost of $153,460 in 2023, and $260,000 annually from 2024-26.

* $12,000 annually for four years to transition one-time funding from the Downtown Safety Education Program to ongoing expansion of the program beyond the downtown boundary.

* Transition of one-time funding to ongoing funding for the Diversion Outreach Team at a cost of $144,800 in 2023 and $275,800 annually from 2024-’26.

* One permanent full-time employee and one term position for the years 2023-26 to maintain the current level of service by Regulatory Services.

Budget deliberations went into a lengthy closed session late in the morning and only resumed shortly before 2 p.m.

A report on Twitter from the City Clerk stated that a closed meeting report for three items including two involving Communications and Engagement Evolution would remain closed.

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Citi Zen

Sure, add more do-nothing employees to City Hall, and increase our taxes even more. And of course, spend ever more on the downtown and the totally inefficient Access a ride.
How about something of positive monetary benefit to the taxpayer?