An important aspect of being an effective City Council member is advocating to higher orders of government on behalf of our community.
Recently, I and most of my colleagues on Council attended the Alberta Association of Urban Municipalities fall conference. This event provided numerous opportunities for us to network with provincial Cabinet ministers and our elected counterparts from other communities to discuss issues that are important to Lethbridge.
We met with Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous and emphasized the need for a commitment to sustainable, predictable long-term capital funding for municipalities through provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI). Over the past decade, the MSI program has been a key funding component which has allowed Lethbridge to maintain basic infrastructure and meet the needs of our growing community.
Our discussion with Innovation and Advanced Education Minister Lori Sigurdson focused on the importance of Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge for providing a knowledgeable workforce with contributes to economic development in our city and region. The new trades building at the college and the Destination Project at the university are needed to provide career opportunities for students.
We also met with Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to reaffirm our desire and commitment to continue collaborating with Alberta Health Services to develop a satellite model for regional ambulance dispatch service.
Between sessions, I had additional informal meetings with our Lethbridge East MLA Maria Fitzpatrick and with Shannon Phillips, our Lethbridge West MLA and Minister of Environment, Parks and the Status of Women. I also attended bear pit sessions with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason as well as Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley.
Opportunities like these allow us to build relationships with our new provincial government. We look forward to working with our local MLAs and their government colleagues to serve the interests of Lethbridge citizens.
This summer and fall have been especially busy for road work around the city, and the numerous detours required to accommodate this important work have tried the patience of some residents. Among the more significant of these projects has been the major improvements at the intersection of Mayor Magrath Drive South and Scenic Drive South and the arterial road improvements along 5 Avenue North from Mayor Magrath Drive to 28 Street North.
Work at the Mayor Magrath Drive South/Scenic Drive South intersection is largely complete and was reopened to all traffic on Oct. 6. This project included the addition of a third southbound through lane, street lighting improvements, new traffic signals and better accommodation for pedestrians.
Meanwhile, the work on 5 Avenue North is part of larger group of arterial road improvements in North Lethbridge. Work here began in the third week of July on improvements at the Mayor Magrath Drive intersection as well as installation of underground utilities. This project is scheduled for completion very soon – Oct. 30, weather permitting – which I'm sure will be a relief to many. This project has been challenging, given the volume of traffic this area normally accommodates and the number of businesses which rely on this road for customer access. Our transportation project management staff have maintained regular contact with affected businesses to keep them up to date and have strived to ensure customers had at least modified access while the work continued.
It's seldom possible to accomplish necessary work like this without some level of inconvenience to our residents, and we do appreciate your patience with detours and delays that unavoidably result.
As we look back on 2015 construction season, it's worthwhile to recognize that much has been accomplished on the maintenance and enhancement of our city transportation network. In early August, the newest portion of Métis Trail was opened connecting Jerry Potts Boulevard West and Garry Drive West. Major bridge rehabilitation work on Whoop-Up Drive was completed in September, and construction of Lethbridge's first multi-lane roundabout was completed on Oct. 2 at the Garry Drive West/Squamish Boulevard intersection. Paving is underway and scheduled for completion Oct. 30 at the west end of Whoop-Up Drive and along 30 Street West on sections of road that were previously only gravel.
This week, we completed a major upgrade to 43 Street North, which included expanding it to four lanes from two between Hwy 3 and 9 Avenue North as well as adding traffic signals at three intersections.
We're only two weeks away from the 2015 Skate Canada International event on Oct. 30-Nov. 1 when Lethbridge will welcome the world's top figure skaters. This is a rare opportunity to see world-class figure skating right here in Lethbridge. If you haven't got tickets yet, I urge you get them soon. Ticket packages are available now at www.enmaxcentre.ca. I have my tickets, and I hope to see you there!
I'm also thrilled about the announcement earlier this month that Lethbridge will host the 2017 World Mixed Doubles and World Senior (50 and over) Curling Championships at our new Crossings Leisure Complex. These events will be held April 22-29, 2017 and will be the final chance for countries to clinch a berth in the inaugural Olympic mixed doubles curling competition, which will debut at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
This international curling event will be an outstanding opportunity to showcase our community and our new leisure complex. I want to congratulate the Lethbridge Curling Club and the Host Committee for bringing this world-class event to Lethbridge.
For anyone interested in community service, I encourage you to look into the opportunities that exist right now to serve on one of our municipal boards, commissions and committees. There are vacancies on the Assessment Review Board, the Community and Social Development Committee, the Heart of Our City Committee, the Lethbridge Housing Authority, the Lethbridge Regional Police Commission, the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, and the Youth Advisory Council. You can find more information as well as application forms at: http://www.lethbridge.ca/GetInvolved.
Lastly, with the federal election now only a few days away, I encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote. If you want to make a difference, voting is a simple, easy way to start. Voter participation is key to a healthy democracy. In what is expected to be a very close election, every vote matters.
Mayor Chris Spearman
October 16, 2015