May 30th, 2024

Mayor calls inter-governmental workshop a success

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 4, 2024.


Mayor Blaine Hyggen is calling a Thursday workshop with representatives from Alberta’s mid-sized cities a success.

The inter-governmental workshop was staged to discuss challenges faced by communities in Alberta, as well as solutions that are being developed.

About 70 people roughly a dozen communities attended either in person at City Hall or online and plans are in the works to hold such workshops on a quarterly basis, said the mayor on Friday.

“We want to continue share our successes and the lack thereof at times, too,” he added.

The three-hour workshop was held the day before the two-day Alberta Association of Police Governance Conference & Annual General Meeting which continues today.

The event gave communities a chance to discuss similar issues and different strategies to address problems.

Among presentations were ones the City’s encampment strategies and other matters. And communities such as Wood Buffalo addressed some of the strategies they were implementing, added the mayor.

“It was way, way bigger than we ever thought it would,” said Hyggen

But not only were mutual and different challenges discussed, but solutions as well so communities could learn from each other and not re-invent the wheel, the mayor noted.

“Everybody shares similar problems and it’s how do you deal with them?,” said the mayor.

The response was good from other governments, he said.

A representative from Red Deer sent a message to Hyggen Friday saying “kudos to you and the team for bringing this forward. I think we had five councillors on board last night and I know they’ll be chattering all morning …and how we move forward.” The representative said Red Deer is facing challenges getting people downtown there and “we’ll certainly take a page from your book.”

Hyggen said organizers weren’t sure how many people would attend “but we just got inundated.”

At a recent meeting of the Downtown Lawlessness Task Force, councillor John Middleton-Hope who came up with the idea for the workshop said purpose of the workshop was to gain an understanding of the challenges faced by Alberta’s mid-sized cities and potential solutions.

Municipalities that were invited have more than 50,000 residents, their total population of these communities being about 700,000.

Councillor John Middleton-Hope, who came up with the idea for the workshop, said Friday all communities which attended are tackling the same issues to varying degrees from the opioid crisis to encampments, property damage to rising crime rates.

Event two smaller communities, Lloydminster and Wetaskiwin, whose mayor Tyler Gandam is also president of Alberta Municipalities, were represented.

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I applaud our leadership for being innovative and putting our city ahead of others by finding ways to end the issues on our streets. The encampment strategy is not even one year old and we have seen great success.
The next stage will be tougher, but ending the loitering will help end or lower many of the issues on our streets.
We will never end addiction issues completely, but at least it will be manageable.
Thank you for the tough decisions you had to make.

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