July 21st, 2024

Downtown task force to be discussed by city council

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 12, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The terms of reference for the Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force will be discussed when city council meets this afternoon.

The public portion of the meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in council chambers.

Travis Hillier, Director of Community and Council Relations, will be making a presentation to council on those terms.

His report says while the terms don’t in themselves have financial implications, requests could come from the DLR task force as it identifies and recommends initiatives.

In early November, a meeting was staged with delegates from various sectors to discuss and draft the terms of reference.

Hillier is recommending that council approve those terms and create the task force as a sub-committee which would report through the Safety and Social Standing Policy Committee. It will be recommended that council appoint Mayor Blaine Hyggen and Acting Mayor John Middleton-Hope as council representatives on the task force, an option with aligns with city policies when councillors are involved on city committees.

Another option council can consider is not approving the terms of reference.

A draft of the terms show it will adhere to several guiding principles. They include:

1. Create a respectful and safe space for open dialogue as a collective.

2. Agree on a unified and consistent message, while honouring individual perspectives and divergent viewpoints.

3. Focus on solutions and actions while having S-M-A-R-T objectives.

4. Be curious, innovative, and analytical in our approach.

5. Be data and intelligence led as our best practice.

6. Commit to performing the work necessary to achieve our collective outcomes.

The mandate of the task force is to:

1. Identify the symptoms and depth of lawless behaviours and their impacts in our city.

2. Identify stakeholders to strategize on responses and resourcing requirements.

3. Work collaboratively with stakeholders to identify solutions.

4. Provide recommended solutions to the membership organizations for action.

5. Develop a joint communication plan for this task force and its member stakeholders.

6. Consider how any recommendations from the task force can support and/or integrate with existing encampment, shelter and housing strategies developed and being implemented by the City of Lethbridge.

Scope of the force is:

1. Identify and prioritize underlying issues and recommend solutions.

2. Investigate and identify past best practices.

3. Research and identify new initiatives and make recommendations for action.

4. Identify appropriate funding and resources and recommend their required delegation,

procurement and coordination for proper utilization.

Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force

Terms of Reference

5. Identify, and collaborate with, key partners to achieve the same desired outcome.

6. Advocate to local and provincial governments.

7. Provide membership organizations with advocacy topics for coordinated advocacy to

other levels of government.

8. Review and make recommendations of bylaws and strategies for enforcement.

The committee will include five members of the Downtown BRZ, two city members of council, one member from Lethbridge Police Service and six City administration representatives.

Those representatives come from Community Social Development, Regulatory Services, Opportunity Lethbridge, Communications and administration.

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I am not sure why we need a task force for this since it is evident what needs to be done.
The city has already supplied necessary housing for them, but this particular group refuses to use the services because they cannot continue their criminal activities.
The ones on the streets all night and day committing all the crimes, property damage/graffiti, fires, break and enters, are the same ones selling drugs, prostitution services, and other illegal criminal services.
The exising laws are not being enforced, in part because the federal prosecutors just kick the criminals back out on the streets and or refuse to allow charges.
Our bylaws regarding loitering, sleeping in public doorways/parks, littering, graffiti, public urination/defecation, etc., are not being enforced as well, partly because police find the provincial/federal laws have more teeth, yet the laws are not being enforced.
It is complex, but we have met the legal requirements of providing alternative housing to enforce these laws.
Downtown businesses could also benefit by moving these people along who hang out at their businesses, since most are on the business private property, but instead they choose to use loud audible alarms, which take away the peaceful enjoyment of residents in their neighbourhood, and enflaming the situation. Police should be moving the people along from private property who are doing illegal drugs and we need to get our LPS force up the national per capita members numbers. We have had some of the highest ratings on the Canadian Crime Index, yet our police force is understaffed.
Do we need a task force to deal with these issues? Maybe, but if this task force is put into play, we want to see change!
Lethbridge council and administration did a great job dealing with the encampment issues, now we need to finish the job!

Last edited 7 months ago by ewingbt