July 20th, 2024

BRZ looking forward to future of task force


By Lethbridge Herald on January 26, 2024.

A group of people gather earlier this month in a downtown alleyway. The new Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force committee says they are exploring multiple strategies toward increased safety downtown. Herald file photo by Theodora MacLeod

Steffanie Costigan – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) is looking forward to the future of the new Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force committee. 

The new task force committee has met a couple of times making plans for action on downtown safety. Its latest meeting was Thursday at 7:30 a.m. in City Hall and another one will be held February 8 in council chambers, also at 7:30 a.m.

Meetings are planned  for the second and fourth Thursdays of each month with each expected to last between one and 1.5 hours.

 Downtown BRZ executive director Sarah Amies shared some of the possible strategies the new task force has been discussing to keep crime at bay.

“There is possibly the move of bringing sheriffs into the city,” said Amies, to assist with police.

Amies is vice-chair of the committee which is helmed by Hunter Heggie in the chair position.

Sheriffs could be part of the larger plan and some of the stuff that they are trained for such as dealing with traffic and safety matters, leaving  police officers  to look at more enforcement in the downtown, said Amies.

Amies said the task force committee is also looking at securing a data technology company to provide some data-driven information for use by the task force in its work. 

“With a technology like that we can kind of map where things are happening and where we need to provide more focus,” she said.

Amies said it is important to listen to the downtown business owners.

“I think it’s really, really important that we also receive and consider the narrative that comes from business owners and property owners, because they’re the ones that are living and breathing the downtown on a daily basis, all the good and all the not so good.”

She described the involvement of the BRZ on the task force.

 “In conjunction with a number of other organizations, we’ve got quite a hefty group of people sitting around the table. We have the Lethbridge police, we have Lethbridge fire services, we have the legal team from the City. We also have the Regulatory Services team from the city, five members of the BRZ, a couple of council members,” said Amies.

 Amies voiced the importance of advocating for downtown businesses.

“I understand and recognize just how important it is that businesses feel that they’re being listened to, that they’re being advocated for, and that certainly is one of the main pillars within the BRZ mission statement is the advocacy piece,” she said.

The task force is a sub committee of the Safety and Social Standing Policy Committee which reports to city council.

It includes five members of the Downtown BRZ, two city members of council, one member from Lethbridge Police Service and six City administration representatives.

Mayor Blaine Hyggen and Acting Mayor John Middleton-Hope are council’s representatives.

It will operate through this year with a review planned before the end of December. When required task force recommendations will go through the Safety and Social Standing Policy Committee before adoption by council.

The task force is a cross-functional group which has a mandate consisting of several components.

They include, according to a submission at this week’s meeting made by Director of Community and Council Relations Travis Hillier on the scope of work for data analysis and report generation: 

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 and assist in implementing strategies identified to create a sustainable impact,

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

5. 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.

It defines lawlessness as “a state of disorder due to a disregard of the law, and these behaviours include criminal, uncontrolled and anti-social conduct that has a sustained, pervasive impact on communities.”

The data that it could include for analysis will come from Lethbridge police, fire and EMS, Lethbridge 311 and Community Social Development.

Hillier’s presentation said it also could include publicly available data from other sources including Alberta Health Services.

The task force wants to see from the collection of data analysis a comprehensive report that will help it in decision-making along with a comprehensive view of what’s happening downtown, incident patterns and trends, dashboards and visual aids for easy interpretation and understanding and actionable insights and recommendations.

Interested parties had until Friday to submit quotes for providing the data analysis service.

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ewingbt

Law enforcement has always being a deterrent when there are penalties which are used that causes the criminal to not commit the crime. Harm reduction policies include less police and law enforcement which bind the hands of law enforcement. This must end!
The past several years of this drug crisis has increased gang/organized crime numbers in our area and they are embedded now! They drive the crisis and they are the ones who push the gangs and the criminals into this city!
I didn’t see any collaboration with the feds or province mentioned and drug courts would be an important tool in the remedy.
I agree with the forming of this task force, as long as it focused on serious solutions and we all know enforcement exising laws is a good start.
Other cities in the US are already reversing decisions of decriminalizing small amounts of drugs and realized that safe supply is not the answer, after witnessing dramatic increases in fatal overdoses, numbers of addicts which of course increases crime and homelessness.
Gangs also govern many encampments in other cities, just as they were doing in the Lethbridge Shelter before the Blood Tribe took over.
As gangs and organized crime grow, they increase other illegal revenue sources such as illegal gun sales, human trafficking, child explortation/pornography, stolen goods/vehicle trade, prostitution as well as the drug trade. The drug crisis is the common denominator!

biff

a return to approaches that did not then work, let alone when that was before the prevalence of the far more addictive and insidious synthetic products plaguing us today. Moreover, while govt must indeed be enforcing laws that product one from another, govt has no place determining what one does with their body. thus, it is not the act of drinking or using substances on oneself that can be deemed illegal, it is any actions by any individual or group that compromises the rights of another that must be the focus of enforcement.
certainly, addictions supports must be made available, and offered as part of any addictions-related criminal matters. but, treatment cannot be forced, as much as one would like to exert control over the lives of others.

ewingbt

The approach was not perfect, but it dramatically decreased death, crime and homelessness.
I will not argue with someone who supports terrorist organizations such as Hamas, as you reflected in previous news comments, or supports harm reduction. You are an addict who just has been brainwashed to the point of no return to commonsense and wants to allow the growth of organized crime, child pornography and the inhumane conditions those on the streets live to gain revenues for organized crime.
The business community has been hit hard in Lethbridge as well and so has the reputation of the city but you do not have any care for them!
Forced treatment does work!!!! I have proven it to many in leadership but you are in your own misguided world that refuses to see past the failed harm reduction policies. Couple that with drug courts which were not available decades ago, and laws being enforced will reduce the drug crisis and give people a chance in life!
I know you! You falsely accused me of being a vigilante, which is a serious criminal charge and you were lucky that you didn’t have anything of value that a lawsuit would have stopped the false accusations.
Common sense is rising in this province and already there is positive results seen compared to BC’s slide into the abyss. That is the best tangible proof Alberta is on the right track and will only improve once all the policies are in place and facilities are finished.
Are you also supporting organized crime? You and your aliases you comment under always attack others but rarely have anything tangible to support your attacks!

Last edited 5 months ago by ewingbt
biff

for real? i stopped reading your reply at the point where you just made up a load of crap. i have unequivocally stated my disdain for hamas; i also have as much disdain for the present and pretty much all of the israeli govts, which also act as terrorist orgs.
get your facts straight, and refrain from accusing folk of being what they are not.

pursuit diver

“govt has no place determining what one does with their body”
You have a sick mind and understanding if you think you can destroy communities, cost taxpayers billions of their hard worked for tax dollars and society has no say! Your post shows your ignorance to the laws in this country and the rights of Canadians.

Last edited 5 months ago by pursuit diver
biff

your positions shows that you prefer the fascist approach where govts have utter and final control over people. you are free to let another tell you how you may or may not use your body – leave others to their rightful choices.

buckwheat

Your position is quite contradictory. On one hand we as a society have put a system in place to care for those who are less fortunate and we are constant ranting about the frailties of our health care system. Hence when programs are put in place to care for individuals, addicts, you scream how dare the government tell me what I can put in my body. Whatever happened to let’s help those who can’t help themselves for whatever reason. Guess Trudeau and the Charter got in the way. By your account, we should do nothing as a society. Nice.

biff

if you will please read a little more clearly, here is a copy/paste from my first entry: “it is not the act of drinking or using substances on oneself that can be deemed illegal, it is any actions by any individual or group that compromises the rights of another that must be the focus of enforcement.certainly, addictions supports must be made available, and offered as part of any addictions-related criminal matters. but, treatment cannot be forced, as much as one would like to exert control over the lives of others.”
it is one thing to offer opportunities, and to foster a sharing and caring society; it is quite another to force anything on the body of anyone that does not want what is being offered/forced.
just in case you jump to a red herring, such as we force criminals into jails, we must, of course, have a system that respects the rights of others.
back to my point: using intoxicants of any kind cannot be deemed a crime, as that is one’s right to their body; however, behaviours that infringe on the rights of others must be dealt with.

ewingbt

You are correct about only one thing! Your comments to previous news articles showed you do not support Hamas, but that you display anti-semitic views with you lack of knowledge of who’s land Israel sits on. I will give you that! But the rest of your comments shows how out of touch you are! BC is the best tangible proof of how bad the 20 year old harm experiment has failed!
Society has a right to where its tax dollars are spent and families have a right to prevent their kids from dying in their younger years.
No more posts on this for me! I just had to state that you were right that you state you do not support Hamas!

Dennis Bremner

One of the issues you have with increased law enforcement is the “moving target problem” as I call it.
We have about 240 people on the streets right now. Building a profile for police is extremely difficult. Why, well 111 died during the last 12 months in Lethbridge. So that means more than 111 arrived during the same period.
So a drug addict that has the propensity to go around breaking windows when high, is sought out almost immediately if windows are broken. The trouble is, he/she may be one of the 111 and the police have a brand new problem for an old problem.
Many among the eyerollers of Lethbridge have no idea how this city will cope once they actually start saving people. All it takes is one successful or two succesful years and you immediately double the problem fo LAPS and double the problem for Residents and businesses.
When this becomes more obvious is when lives are actually savd longterm and housing is provided. Then, like Medicine Hat, suddenly you get a surge. Once Medicine Hat announced they had solved the homeless problem, it took exactly 4 months to garner 150 new homeless.
These are the issues no one wants to talk about or plan for. I have yet to see in my many years of observing addicts where law enforcement changes anything. It is shuffling chairs on the Titanic, and as some chairs fall overboard, others are brought out of storage to replace the problem.
None of the proposed “solutions” that I have read will change Lethbridges destiny. Incarceration only works if you can keep a jail or prison drug free. We, in Canada, are going the other way, requesting free needle supply etc where no drugs are supposed to be.
So if you cannot keep a jail/prison clean how does anyone, and I mean anyone expect to keep the freedom of a downtown clean or reduce lawlessness.
I might try to attend Feb 8th to see if anything amazing appears, at the Lawlessness committee meeting if I am allowed to attend as an observer but my opinion is that in the end this committee cannot be effective without doing the obvious which is bringing law in to try to discourage law breakers. We just do not have enough police/sheriffs/ special constables to control what is coming,
I respect ewings suggestion but I have seen it not work too many times. Add to that the unpopularity of cracking down on Addicts by the bleeding hearts of Lethbridge and throughout Canada and you have politicians attempting not to offend anyone.
Whats the Answer? My suggestion still stands. Outlaw illegal drug use in Lethbridge, and anyone caught consuming is returned to the facility I have laid out. That takes an entire change by the UCP but Marshall Smith who still believes, he and his plan is the answer, its not 111 deaths and counting.
I sit back and watch with extreme sadness the destruction of first nations people and wish someone, anyone, would stand up and demand the only solution. Alas, I do not see this happening.

Last edited 5 months ago by Dennis Bremner
ewingbt

Canada is slowly waking up to the fact harm reduction increases the crisis.
Read this:
https://winnipegsun.com/opinion/klein-manitoba-needs-to-explore-deterrence-mandatory-treatment-for-addicts#:~:text=We%20need%20to%20start%20with,bans%20on%20illegal%20substance%20use.
” . . .We need to start with a strong first line of deterrence — meaningful criminal penalties, then invest in robust community enforcement followed by mandatory treatment and recovery programs. Public spaces like parks and outdoor recreational facilities must be protected with complete bans on illegal substance use. . . “
The opinion letter was written by  Kevin Klein who is a former Tory cabinet minister, a former city councillor and a former Winnipeg Sun publisher.