March 1st, 2024

Year in review: Top stories from April to June


By Lethbridge Herald on December 28, 2023.

As we all prepare to turn our calendars to the new year we take time to reflect back on 2023 and examine all the highs and lows, ups and downs and leading stories that graced the pages of The Lethbridge Herald.
This is the second of a four-part series.

APRIL

Two years to the day a groundbreaking ceremony was staged, Lethbridge Exhibition CEO Mike Warkentin and Blair Grier – project manager of new construction of the Exhibition on the new Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre – who has overseen the project from the beginning gave city media a tour of the expansive facility.
The facility’s four trade halls have a combined 104,000 square feet of space. Each will be 26,000 square feet and each will be a fully acoustically insulated space, media was told during the tour of both floors. A milestone was reached this week with the pouring of 1,000 cubic metres of concrete to create the engineered floor system in the trade halls.

NDP MLA for Lethbridge West Shannon Phillips is calling for an independent investigation into Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s interference with in the courts on behalf of Artur Pawlowski.
“I am joining our leader Rachel Notley and calling for an immediate independent investigation into Daniel Smith’s meddling in the courts. This investi- gation must be led by a judge, it must have access to the premier and her staff and to emails reaching back to the first days of the Smith’s government, and it must be complete within 30 days,” said Phillips.
She said Albertans need to have all the facts be- fore voting for their premier and MLAs in May.

Lethbridge city council on Tuesday unanimously voted to support an official business motion put forward by Deputy Mayor John Middleton-Hope calling for Alberta municipalities to advocate for the Alberta government to ensure provincial allocations of capital funding for school construction cover all costs of that construction.
The motion states the costs should include servicing of school sites with required infrastructure.

Lethbridge city council is giving the Lethbridge Curling Club a chance to secure another major event for Lethbridge. Council on Tuesday approved a request to provide $900,000 from the Major Community Event Grant budget so the club can make a bid to host the 2025 Canadian Curling Trials.

Mayor Blaine Hyggen has hand-delivered on behalf of city council and the city a letter to Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services, asking for the support of the Alberta Sheriffs to help deal with encampments here this year.

The West Lethbridge constituency of the UCP has a new candidate to run in the May 29 provincial election.
Cheryl Seaborn, a former president of the of the Lethbridge West UCP Constituency Associa- tion, was named the party candidate Thursday morning by premier Danielle Smith.
The riding lost its first candidate last Thursday when Torry Tanner resigned after videos surfaced of her making inflammatory comments about Alberta students being exposed to pornography and being helped to change their gender identity by teachers.

Lethbridge is getting a cardiac catheterization lab at Chinook Regional Hospital. The announcement was made on Wednesday by the provincial
government. The lack of such a lab be- ing specifically included in the recent provincial budget was a sore point with mayor Blaine Hyggen who last month made an announcement at City Hall citing his disappointment with that element of the budget.

Blood Tribe chief and council are taking new actions to address drug trafficking and the opioid crisis.
Chief Roy Fox, in a special announcement on the tribe’s YouTube channel on Monday, said more than $1 million is being invested in two new initiatives.
They include funding for a police task force and renovations to abandoned houses that are being used for drug purposes so those homes can be utilized by needy members without housing.

The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce hosted a lunch with Premier Danielle Smith
Monday where she outlined her government’s vision for a strong and prosperous economy in Alberta, and the role the business community plays in Alberta’s future. Smith said she hopes that shows the importance the UCP places in the mid-size cities which are really com- ing into their own.

Minister of Infrastructure and MLA for East Lethbridge, Nathan Neudorf announced an investment into the enhancement and expansion of the renal dialysis program at the Chinook Regional Hospital. He said when complete the renovation will provide 28 dialysis treatment stations and two airborne isolation rooms for a total of 20 treatment rooms, as well as five home dialysis training rooms, a biotechnical room that will support nighttime dialysis and additional space for family consultations, training staff and supplies.

Lethbridge has one of the highest child poverty rates in Canada and 30 per cent of households live on less than $49,000 per year. The average household income here is $35,000 lower than the provincial average, it notes. And the median household income of $77,883 here is lower than the provincial median aver- age of $98,646, according to a report by the City’s Community Social Development department.
The numbers of homeless have in- creased by 150 per cent since 2016 and substance use is rising here, it adds.

The City of Lethbridge has launched an improved version of its website which will make it easier for residents to navigate by making it more user-friendly.
Wes Chapman, communications and engagement strategist and member
of the project team, said the updated website is a starting point that gets the City into a modern platform which will allow them to add a lot more flexibility in the future and a lot more tools that residents will benefit from.

The Lethbridge Wellness Shelter and Stabilization Centre has been in operation for almost four months under the Blood Tribe Department of Health and shelter coordinator Tim Heavyshields says it has been an exciting and successful venture so far. “We’ve established great partnerships with such stakeholders in the community as the Lethbridge Police Service, Fire and EMS and Alberta Health Services. We have re-established a lot of those partnerships and working relations as far as working with the marginalized population of Lethbridge so it’s been really positive just reconnecting with those folks,” said Heavyshields.

Lethbridge Police have charged a 51-year-old man in connection with two armed robberies at the same bank. The incidents occurred March 17 and April 11 at the CIBC on 13 Street North.

A couple of weeks short of the one-year anniversary of the groundbreaking ceremony, construction of the Lethbridge Recovery Community is now complete.

The provincial government will be putting in Lethbridge an office of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods, which is a unit of the Alberta Sheriffs that deals with problem properties. Since its inception in 2008, SCAN has investigated about 7,000 problem properties in the province.

MAY

Mayor Blaine Hyggen is among provincial mayors advocating a return to local dispatch of Emergency Medical Services.
The province two years ago transitioned EMS dispatch from Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and mayors want local dispatch returned for “a stable and integrated service.”
A release sent to media Monday says “regional monitoring shows consistent data that substantiates original claims that centralized EMS dispatch has resulted in a degradation of service to Albertans.

Shannon Phillips, NDP MLA for Lethbridge West, announced outside the Galt Museum Tuesday morning the NDP’s plan to create new health clinics in Lethbridge and around Alberta.
“We will establish 40 new family health clinics across Alberta, and at least one of them will be here in Lethbridge. And we will invest in hiring 4,000 allied health professionals in primary care. In the coming days, Rachel Notley will share more about our recruitment and retention strategy,” said Phillips.

Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski has been found guilty of mischief and breaching a release order stemming from his involvement at the Coutts border last year.
“I am satisfied Mr. Pawlowski intended to incite the audience to continue the blockade, intended to incite protesters to commit mischief,” Justice Gordon Krinke ruled Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice.

There are alarming statistics, and there are really alarming statistics.
With more than 1.8 million Albertans having experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime, offences involving sexual violence clearly belong in the latter category.
According to a 2019 survey of 1,496 adult Albertans con- ducted by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, nearly half of adult Albertans have experienced some type of sexual abuse in their lifetimes, and 34 per cent of Albertans were sexually abused when they were under the age of 18.
That means, given the population of Lethbridge, an estimated 6,800 children in the city are being sexually abused.

After the province declared a state of emergency on Saturday due to wildfires burning throughout the province, many municipalities have been put on standby in case they are required to help.
The City of Lethbridge is sending three city staff to the northern part of the province, including Luke Palmer, City’s Emergency Planning and Risk Man- ager to help support actions in emergency centres.
Palmer said that in the event things become more long drawn out or they’re not working in their favour, municipalities might be tapped on their shoulder.

NDP leader Rachel Notley has promised her party, if elected to govern Alberta after the May 29 election, will set up a new Lethbridge Teaching Clinic here to serve southern Alberta families with their healthcare needs. The clinic would bring seven new medical students as well as 20 new family medicine residents here to increase healthcare access for families.

The UCP has announced a plan to make cities safer if the party is re-elected to govern Alberta on May 29.
The Safe Streets Action plan was unveiled Tues- day and consists of comprehensive measures aimed at improving safety in Alberta communities and on public transit.
The plan would increase monitoring of danger- ous offenders who are out of custody on bail, “keep hard drugs and guns off Alberta streets and protect women and children facing abuse,” says the UCP.

Your new green bin is about to receive its initial test as the organic processing facility officially opened at the Lethbridge Waste and Recycling Centre on Wednesday.

Casa is turning 10 years old with many reasons to celebrate, the most recent one being the installation of sun shade sails in the Rotary Square.
The shade sails will only be up for the duration of the summer to be able to preserve them and extend their lifespan.

Lethbridge city council has voted unanimously to approve the implementation of harmonized school and playground zones. The change will see school zones turned into playground zones, with both in effect between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day.

The Lethbridge School Division has appointed a new superintendent who has more than 20 years of experience in various roles within the education system.
Board chair Allison Purcell announced Tuesday that Mike Nightingale has been appointed as superintendent of the Lethbridge School Division. She said the search for a new superintendent started in February when Cheryl Gilmore announced her retirement.

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services has attained the Emergency Medical Services Accreditation certification from Accreditation Canada, highlighting the commitment of excellence in care and organizational performance.

It’s hard to imagine something as simple as speeding can result in a lifetime of regret, and as any parent could imagine, it would be indescribably awful to have to bury your child due to someone not following the speed limit. This was the unfortunate reality three years ago for the Mclntyre family.
Coalbanks Elementary School held an assembly honouring Charles Mclntyre’s memory which reminded people to “Slow Your Roll” on Friday morning at the front of Coalbanks school grounds.

The votes are counted and the voters in Leth- bridge West have spoken. Shannon Phillips has been re-elected as the New Democratic Party MLA for Lethbridge-West.
Phillips addressed the media after Rachel Notley addressed the province, and said she has immense gratitude towards everyone who made this win possible.
“It’s just profound gratitude that I’ve had the honour of representing the city now for my third term, which I owe entirely to the voters of Lethbridge West, volunteers who work so hard on my campaigns over the years,” said Phillips.

Incumbent Grant Hunter and the United Conservative Party cruised to an easy victory in Taber-Warner on Monday evening, far outpacing his closest rivals at the polls to retain his position as MLA.
Hunter’s resounding victory saw him take in 76.2 per cent of the vote in Taber-Warner, or some 5,741 votes with 12 of 20 polls reporting. The provincial race was still too close to call as of press deadline on Monday night, but a UCP majority had been projected.

JUNE

Promises have been made and now it’s time to see if the province will cash the cheque.
Mayor Blaine Hyggen on Tuesday said during a break at city council that the City will be following up on promises made during the election campaign by both the UCP and Opposition party members.
The mayor also gave a huge shout-out to all candidates who ran in the provincial election Monday across the province. “I’m looking forward to working with them. The Number One thing I want to make sure we do is we got a lot of promises before the writ was dropped and I want to make sure that we follow up on this and we make sure that these campaign promises are realized.”

Residents of Cardston have voted in favour of allowing limited liquor sales in a non- binding vote of electors that was held by the town during Monday’s Election Day. The matter of allowing alcohol to be sold within the Town of Cardston, is one that has been discussed since 2019, after the Alberta government passed the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act.

Streets Alive mission has acquired a new building to be able to continue helping those who are helping themselves get reintegrated into society.
Ken Kissick spoke to the Herald on Tuesday and said they have purchased the Galt Manor located on 7 Street S. and were taking possession of the building yesterday.

The University of Lethbridge celebrated its graduates in the 2023 convocation and welcomed the installation of their new 15th chancellor on Thursday morning at the 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness.

Hayat Makwik was braiding her niece’s hair at a friend’s house recently when she heard she was the recipient of a TD Scholarship for Community Leadership.
The Grade 12 student at Chinook High School, who will be graduating on June 28, said Thursday she was shocked when she got the news.
“I was in so much shock. I couldn’t believe it,” Makwik said.
“I was just like pulling on her hair and ‘no way.’ She said ‘what’s going on?’ and I said I got the scholarship.”
The scholarships have a value of $70,000 includ- ing up to $10,000 for tuition and $7,500 for living experience per year for a maximum of four years.

Break it to them gently but Burton Cummings has his own way to rock.
And the Canadian rock legend will be showing it to a Lethbridge
audience once again on June 11 when he will stand tall at the Enmax Centre with his band the Carpet Frogs.

Five days of search and rescue training by the 435 Transportation and Rescue Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force began here Monday. A total of about 100 personnel from elements of the Canadian and American military will be operating out of the Lethbridge airport for the annual search and rescue exercise.

Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf has once again been named a member of premier Danielle Smith’s cabinet.
Neudorf on Friday was named Minister of Affordability and Vice-chair of the Treasury Board. In the last cabinet, he served as Minister of Infrastructure and Deputy Premier.
Joseph Schow, MLA for Cardston- Siksika, was named Minister of Tourism and Sport. Schow will also serve as House leader.

A ceremonial smudge kicked off several events to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day at the University of Lethbridge. The ceremonial smudge was followed by a variety of activities, including medicine bag making, a round dance, Indigenous games and a teepee raising.

Running across Canada is no simple task, yet a group of dedicated runners are doing just that in honour of others who have passed on before them.
Napi’s Run for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Men and Mother Earth 2023 has been crossing the country for 70 days.
Johnny Bare Shin Bone says he had a dream in 2019 about the run and now it was just time to finally do it.

The Lethbridge Family Services Angel Tree Christmas campaign has received an early donation from a family honouring their baby daughter who would have turned one year old this month.
On June 20 Annie Rae Olsen would
have celebrated her first birthday, but she passed away in her sleep on October 2022. Her mom, Bekah Olsen, said she left her daughter with her mother-in- law while getting her hair done, and when Annie went down for a nap, she never woke up.

The goats are back for their fifth season to remove invasive weeds in the river valley. They will be splitting their time
grazing between the Alexander Wilder- ness Park and Indian Battle Park.
Parks Natural Resources Co-ordinator with the City of Lethbridge, Jackie Cardinal said the 200 goats are targeting weeds such as leafy spurge, wormwood and thistle.

Tensions were running high during a Lethbridge School Division Board of Trustees meeting this week where dozens of people gathered to protest a policy that has been in place for over five years.
During the Tuesday meeting there was an opportunity in a public forum where members of the community were given a chance to speak regarding policy 502.2 which refers to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGI).

The City of Lethbridge is asking residents to be aware of a heat warning issued for Lethbridge by Environment and Climate
Change Canada and to take precautions during the hot weather. The City activated its Extreme Temperature Response Pro- tocol, as temperatures reached a high of 32°C and are forecast to reach that high again today and Saturday, before moderating on Sunday.

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