By Tim Kalinowski on October 5, 2021.
City council candidate Shelby MacLeod is hoping to put her vast experience in governance and within the non-profit sector to good use as a representative of the people of Lethbridge.
MacLeod is currently chair of the local Canadian Mental Health Association board, a long-time board member with the Lethbridge Food Bank, and a member of the Galt 8 Mine Historic Site Society. Before retiring in 2007 from her provincial duties, MacLeod worked as a legislative assistant to former Lethbridge-West MLA Clint Dunford when he served as Minister of Advanced Education and later as Minister of Human Resources. MacLeod previously worked as the long time constituency office manager for Lethbridge-West MLA John Gogol.
She grew up in Taber, but has lived in Lethbridge for the past 35 years.
“I am 70-years-old, and I have the breadth and the depth of understanding and experience,” she says. “City council is not a cake-walk. It’s lots of hard work, lots of reading, lots of listening, and you really have to pay attention because you are one of eight that have to come together for consensus. Or if your motion is voted down, and your idea is not supported, you have to be able to roll with it and go forward.”
MacLeod says her main priority if elected will be to support sustainable economic development in Lethbridge.
“We are in a new world of ever-shrinking funding from the federal and province; so we have to cut our cloth according to what we can afford,” she says. “We also need economic development. Businesses that pay taxes that are sustainable and a universal tax deferral program, but we need people to open a business, stay 10 years, and longer. And pay those taxes we can garner money to pay for things across the spectrum of the city.”
MacLeod says in this respect she will also evaluate capital spending priorities based on those projects’ potential return-on-investment to the community, and whether they will bring enough people into the city to spend their money to make it worth the City’s while to build them.
On the city’s ongoing social issues, MacLeod says it is important Lethbridge find ways to bring in additional supportive housing.
“If you want to stem drug addiction, and you talk to the folks who have been involved in addiction themselves, or working in the addictions (treatment) industry, they talk about healing the whole person,” she says.
“So we really need to have places for people to live with dignity – a room, a door and a bathroom – because no one, I believe, wants to live in a park when they can go to a small room, be it an apartment or a flat, and lay down on a bed … If we want to repair and mend those social issues, we have to have the services in place. We need to have something that’s beyond a mat on the floor.”
MacLeod feels collaboration between contract and social agencies in the city is also essential to tackling the broader social problems the city is facing.
She agrees with steps taken by city council over the past four years to mandate closer co-operation between local agencies to avoid duplication of services.
“The City of Lethbridge brought in a new formula where they want the contract agencies to work together, and I think it is working really well because you don’t have to give up being the executive director of the ‘X-Y.’ But you can work in collaboration with the agency that’s got an HR component or services anyway. And we need to do more that way.”
MacLeod says she is ready to roll up her sleeves, and get down to work to help the City of Lethbridge meet its current challenges, and to help prepare the ground for an even more successful future.
“I’m a hillbilly from Taber,” she says.
“Just a nice person, but I am not an academic. But I see where a good strategic plan will stand you in good stead. And so all my life I would look at a puzzle, or a problem, and say, ‘Why not? And why can’t we do it better?’ And when you start saying, ‘How could we do it better? Why can’t we do it better?’ that is part of a strategic plan.”
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