By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on November 1, 2023.
Lethbridge city council unanimously approved two official business motions Tuesday.
Council called upon City administration to complete a childcare needs assessment for the City by the second quarter of 2024 which will include a thorough analysis of the current childcare landscape here and in-depth background search.
The OBM also calls on administration to come up with recommendations to address the challenges related to increasing the numbers of childcare spaces in Lethbridge and approve up to $25,000 to fund consulting resources to support development of the assessment.
The motion was put forward by councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel who told council that Lethbridge is 600 spaces short of the minimum number of childcare spaces that are considered to be needed here.
That lack of quality affordable space impacts the ability of child care providers – mainly women, the councillor pointed out – to explore employment opportunities. Schmidt-Rempel said the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce was a leader by identifying child care space as a need back in 2020.
The councillor said child care space is a priority of the province as well as community groups.
Her motion stated that “council is committed to encouraging and attracting additional childcare spaces throughout the community to promote social and economic vibrancy” adding that increasing the availability of childcare spaces here “is critical to supporting working parents and stimulating economic growth by allowing more individuals to participate in the labour force.”
The motion states that quality childcare facilities “positively impact early childhood development, prepare children for future educational success, and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.”
Administration is being tasked with completing a childcare needs assessment by the second quarter of 2024 which will encompass in-depth background research as well as a thorough analysis and benchmarking of the present childcare landscape here.
A motion by councillor Rajko Dodic to have the City compile a list of unsafe and dangerous properties was also supported by council.
During debate, councillor Belinda Crowson expressed concern about historical properties and the impact of such a list on people of lower socio-economic standing. Duane Ens, the manager of Regulatory Services, said both those matters are being taken into consideration.
Crowson said she supported the motion which she called “well-intentioned and in many ways necessary” but unintended consequences need to be looked at.
In an organizational meeting before the regular council session, after three readings council officially cancelled Ward Commission Bylaw 647. Last December, council by a 7-2 vote rescinded its decision from June 7 2022 to examine the process used to elect members and to look at alternatives. In the 2021 municipal election, 55.69 per cent of voters answered in favour to the non-binding question: “Do you support using a ward system to elect city councillors (other than the mayor) starting with the 2025 municipal election?”
While a ward commission will no longer be considered, discussions on alternatives including a “made in Lethbridge” model proposed last year could still come back to council in the future.
That “made-in-Lethbridge” concept came before council on Dec. 13, co-sponsored by Mayor Blaine Hyggen, then deputy mayor Ryan Parker and councillor John Middleton-Hope who now is serving a term as acting mayor.
Their model called for the city to be divided into four precincts or quadrants with two councillors being assigned by council as a whole to represent each for terms of up to one year.
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