In the month of November, we remember those who served and sacrificed for our country.
I would like to thank all those who organized, participated in and attended local Remembrance Day events this year. On behalf of the citizens of Lethbridge, I want to thank all those who served. To those in our community who had a family member who paid the supreme sacrifice, we feel your sorrow, and we will remember them.
Raising awareness of Lethbridge at the provincial level can be challenging. Last week, members of Team Lethbridge paid a visit to Edmonton where we spent three days raising the profile of our city with members of our provincial government. We had the opportunity to meet with many provincial ministers or deputy ministers to enhance their understanding of the strengths and challenges of our community and to explore areas where we can collaborate to address issues we face.
Our team was introduced in the Legislative Assembly, and we received a video message from Premier Rachel Notley.
I want to acknowledge the tremendous support Team Lethbridge received from our local MLAs Shannon Phillips and Maria Fitzpatrick. I also want to thank the staff of Economic Development Lethbridge for coordinating the entire venture as well as all who participated as team members to enhance the reputation and awareness of our city.
Team Lethbridge was warmly received, and the meetings with ministers were productive.
We're only a month into our new four-year term of City Council, and I'm pleased with the progress we're already making on a couple of our immediate priorities.
At our Oct. 30 meeting, City Council appointed Kathy Hopkins to serve as Interim City Manager, starting Dec. 1, to ensure a smooth transition as we go through the process of selecting a new city manager during the first half of 2018.
Mrs. Hopkins is well known to many in our community and is certainly no stranger to our municipal organization. She has more than 30 years of experience in municipal government administration, including 20 years at the senior management level with the City of Lethbridge before her retirement in 2015. She has a thorough understanding of municipal administration, and she will provide a steady hand at the helm of our organization during this transition period.
Council also created an ad hoc committee consisting of Councillors Jeff Coffman, Belinda Crowson and Joe Mauro as well as myself to establish a process for recruiting and hiring a new city manager. Our committee expects to present our recommendations to City Council for approval early in the new year.
As Interim City Manager, Mrs. Hopkins will also assist City Council as we collaborate on a strategic plan for the next four years.
The purpose of a strategic plan is to establish priorities that will guide Council's decision making and set a clear direction for our municipal organization over the next four years. Typically, a strategic plan is the product of a series of facilitated meetings and in-depth discussions among Council members over several weeks or months where we seek to identify and articulate the strategies most important to us collectively, as City Council.
The specific elements of our strategic planning process are still being developed, but generally speaking, it will start out with dedicated time in early 2018 for facilitated planning sessions to reflect on the goals and aspirations of individual Council members. This will be an opportunity for each of us on Council to articulate issues, concerns or values important to us individually as well as those we heard during the election campaign from Lethbridge residents as well as community groups about what the pressing needs are in our city.
I expect we will also take some time to review the strategic priorities of the previous City Council to check on the progress that was made over the past four years and determine if we feel there is still work to be done on any of them. These exercises typically help identify broad themes, and from there, Council members will work toward agreement on collective priorities and the development of a draft strategic plan.
Our strategic plan will reflect the current context and issues in Lethbridge, but it can be a living document that may also incorporate new issues or initiatives that emerge during the term of City Council. We hope to have a final strategic plan developed and approved in public by next spring.
As the Christmas season approaches, I encourage everyone to remember the spirit of Christmas. Please support local charities and organizations that assist the less fortunate. Let's also make sure that the Christmas season is safe for all by using designated drivers and other safe forms of transportation after attending celebratory events during the holiday season.
Mayor Chris Spearman
Nov. 17, 2017