June 22nd, 2024

Year-In-Review: Top stories from October – December


By Lethbridge Herald on December 30, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A crowd rallies at the courthouse in support of three men facing mischief charges in the Coutts blockade. Taber Times photo Workers try to load up one of several Ostriches that escaped from a farm and were running loose on the highway through Taber. Herald photo by Al Beeber The Lethbridge Hurricanes reported to council that paid parking is having an impact on game attendance. Herald photo by Ry Clarke Drummers play a song to honour Tia Blood after the missing woman’s body was found near Coalhurst.

As we all prepare to turn our calendars to the new year, we take time to reflect back on 2022 and examine all the ups and downs, highs and lows and leading stories that graced the pages of The Lethbridge Herald. Visit the following links to see headlines from January-MarchApril-JuneJuly-September

October

Coutts protest supporters shut down traffic at courthouse

Lethbridge Police had to shut down traffic around the downtown core near the courthouse at 320 4 St. South on Tuesday as protestors flocked to the streets in the early morning showing support for Mark Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk, and Gerhard Janzen. 

Associated with the Coutts blockade earlier this year, the three are charged with mischief by obstructing, interrupting or interfering with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property. 

Access to 4 St. South between 3 Ave and 4 Ave was closed due to two semi trucks which were parked in front of the courthouse obstructing traffic flow. 

Blood Tribe Health in talks over shelter takeover

The Lethbridge Shelter and Stabilization Centre located on 2 Avenue North and currently operated by Alpha House Society could be changing hands of operation in the coming months. Alpha House is a non-profit based in Calgary that has been operating the shelter since 2019, and it released a statement Wednesday saying the Alberta Government will be transferring the funding grant for service provision of the shelter to another operator. 

New Lethbridge College president officially sworn in

Lethbridge College officially welcomed its ninth president and CEO Brad Donaldson on Friday, holding a ceremony to swear him in as he donned the presidential gown and took the oath of office. Donaldson was sworn in by Kristine Cassie, Vice Chair on the Board of Governors. Donaldson was named the College’s new president and CEO back in August, starting his term in September, with the installation acknowledging him and appointing him to office. 

Tourism groups infighting detrimental to city, SPC hears

Two organizations involved in promoting Lethbridge as a tourism destination have agreed to mediation to settle their differences after a tense meeting in council chambers on Wednesday. Tourism Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Lodging Association will be provided with up to $10,000 of City funds from council contingencies to address problems the two organizations have with each other. 

That allocation was approved by city council acting in its capacity as the Economic Standing Policy committee.

LPS looks to put more boots on the ground

The Lethbridge Police Service is seeking to hire a total of 22 officers including seven for youth engagement over the next three years. It also wants support for officers including in records management, FOIP, Human Resources and Information Technology. 

“No civilian staff have been created in the Lethbridge Police Service since 2012 and no sworn officers have been added since 2014 other than the Community Police Officers Initiative in 2019. This initiative includes adjusting for the $1 million cut in 2021-2022,” says the LPS in its submission to the City which is contained in the draft budget that was presented to city council acting as the Economic SPC. 

Family of missing woman mourning their ‘shining light’

The family of Tia Blood is remembering her as a gentle person, a loving wife, mother and friend. RCMP confirmed that a body discovered near Coalhurst earlier this week was that of the Lethbridge woman who had been missing since Oct. 19. RCMP say an autopsy was conducted at the Calgary Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Wednesday and the deceased was identified as 34-year-old Tia Blood. They say the manner of death has been deemed inconclusive and remains under investigation. Police also released that they have charged 20-year-old Hunter Alexander Frank, of Lethbridge, after he was arrested in relation to the investigation. 

November

Recovery camp seeks transition to winter accommodations

With colder weather the needs of those struggling with homelessness can often escalate. Hoping to help and spread resources to those in need, Alvin Mills, founder of the Kii Maa Pii Pii Tsin (Kindness to Others) Healing and Recovery Camp, took to the streets Tuesday to hand out bannock sandwiches to those in need. Going around the city, Mills hoped to fill empty bellies while spreading the message about his recovery camp. “Kindness to others, that has always been our mandate to support the at-risk,” said Mills. 

Crowd rallies at courthouse in support of Coutts trio

Hundreds of protesters and supporters of three men facing charges from the Coutts blockade packed the Lethbridge courthouse plaza Friday morning to show solidarity with the trio. While the three faced a judge inside the courthouse, the peaceful yet boisterous crowd listened to various speakers speaking about vaccine mandates, freedoms and justice on a blustery windy morning.

Poor game attendance being linked to paid parking for Hurricanes

Lethbridge city council acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee on Tuesday morning accepted as information a report from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the impact paid parking is having on revenue five home games into the season. The presentation to SPC was made by Trevor Lewington, chair of the governance committee, board of governors and Terry Huisman, general manager of business operations for the Western Hockey League club. The SPC was told that while the Hurricanes had a 99 per cent renewal rate on season tickets, numbers from pre-COVID are still down about 10 per cent. Since paid parking was instituted at the Enmax Centre this fall for almost all facility patrons except Canes season ticket holders, the club has seen between 400 and 500 fewer people attend games. 

Smith wins Brooks-Medicine Hat

Premier Danielle Smith won her byelection race on Tuesday night and kicked off her party’s unofficial re-election campaign in Medicine Hat, promising “substantial” health reforms, introducing affordability programs and standing up to Ottawa from her seat in the legislature. 

Smith collected 54.5 per cent of the vote in the contest that featured a tighter than usual race between second and third place finishers, Gwendoline Dirk of the New Democrats (26.7 per cent) and Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita (16.5 per cent) 

Disciplinary sentencing recommends dismissal for ‘MemeGate’ officer

Sentencing for a Lethbridge Police Service officer involved in a 2018 incident where a group chat was created for the creation and distribution of memes deemed to be offensive — which became known at the time as “MemeGate” — was determined on Monday. During a disciplinary hearing for LPS Sgt. Jason Moulton, and after stating the different reasons for arriving at his decision, Presiding Officer Paul Manuel sentenced Moulton to dismissal from the Lethbridge Police Service. 

Economic SPC signs off on double-digit staff increase for Fire/EMS

Lethbridge city council acting in its capacity as the Economic Standing Policy Committee unanimously voted to move along the budget process a resolution calling for the hiring of a total of 13 employees for Fire and EMS services. On Wednesday, City treasurer Darrel Matthews told the SPC the new staff hirings will be contingent on a new contract being signed with Alberta Health Services. An initiative presented in the draft budget said the staff are needed due to “EMS crews reduced availability to provide re/rescue services.” 

Budget deliberations project 5.1 per cent tax increase

That’s a wrap! City council acting as Economic Standing Policy Committee wrapped up five days of budget deliberations Friday morning with unanimous approval to move forward a 5.1 per cent annual property tax increase for council to approve at its Nov. 29 meeting. 

The base budget for the next four years called for a 3.77 per cent annual property tax increase. If all initiatives had been approved, the increased cost to taxpayers over four years would have been 6.06 per cent annually. 

Increases to protective services takes up just more than half of the annual increase which will amount to a hike of $129.93 per single family residence based on an average market value of $285,800. 

Taber RCMP assist in escaped ostrich roundup

The Mounties always get their man – or bird, as the case may be. 

The Corn Capital of Canada suffered an avian invasion on Thursday after 20 ostriches escaped from an enclosure prompting law enforcement to lend a hand in corralling the flightless birds. 

According to a release from Taber-Vauxhall RCMP, just before 8 a.m. Thursday morning RCMP began receiving reports of ostriches on the road in the area of Highway 36 and Township Road 94. One of the ostriches was later struck and killed on the roadway. 

December

City council votes to rescind proposed sober shelter decision

A proposal to use the old Civic Centre curling rink as a sober shelter has been put on ice with city council directing administration to revisit the issue. Council on Tuesday unanimously rescinded its Aug. 9 motion calling on administration to apply for development approval for a sober shelter at the Civic Centre. Instead it is now asking administration to look at other potential sites as well as the Civic Centre and report back to the Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee. Council also directed the mayor to write a letter to the province requesting support for funding opportunities and site selections. 

Hospital capacity in city ‘very stretched’: AHS

Chinook Regional Hospital is being stretched to capacity but no patients have been transferred to other facilities, Dr. Aaron Low of Alberta Health Services said Tuesday. 

Low, the AHS South Zone Medical Director, who works in critical care at the hospital, said for a period of several hours on the weekend it was in a position – because of staff unavailability – where if it had received more patients to the intensive care unit the hospital would have diverted them elsewhere. That staffing shortage was primarily nursing staff. 

City homeless numbers have doubled since 2018

More than 400 people were experiencing homelessness in the city as of late September, results of a survey show. The 2022 Point-in-Time Count, using data collected from local service organizations and shelters, show there were 454 homeless here on Sept. 27. 

The City says the count indicates the minimum number of homeless living in Lethbridge. 

City examining precincts instead of ward system

Lethbridge city council on Tuesday morning voted on a pair of 7-2 motions to rescind its June 7 decision to proceed with an analysis of a ward system and instead examine an alternative that would divide the city into four precincts with two councillors representing each for specific periods of time. 

The original motion to rescind the June 7 vote was co-sponsored by Mayor Blaine Hyggen, deputy mayor Jeff Parker and council John Middleton-Hope. 

Police make record fentanyl seizure

A 43-year-old Standoff man is facing charges after Lethbridge police seized more than $!50,000 worth of drugs downtown on Thursday. The drugs include what police say is the largest seizure of fentanyl in the downtown core. 

Larry Healy is charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purposeof trafficking, possession of the proceeds of crime, possession of a prohibited weapon, and three counts of breaching a release order. 

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