I'd like to begin by thanking Premier Jason Kenney for his dedication to the people of Alberta and for his leadership over what has been an unprecedented term in office. I extend my congratulations to Premier Danielle Smith on her victory in the leadership race. Our Lethbridge City Council looks forward to working with her and her team in continuing to find opportunities to advocate for the residents of Lethbridge.
Congratulations also to our Lethbridge City Council, as October 25 will mark the one-year anniversary of our swearing-in ceremony. What a great honour and privilege it has been to serve Lethbridge residents for this first year. At that ceremony last fall, I said that I want our Council to be a source of continued optimism and that we will address the concerns of all of our residents. I believe our fresh outlook is evident in the work we have already done or commenced. We are also aware of many challenges facing our community including community safety, social issues, affordable housing, budgetary impacts and doctor shortages, just to name a few. But, as we head into our second year together, we are committed and ready to tackle these issues and continue working towards making Lethbridge the best city it can be.
Next month, Lethbridge City Council will meet as Economic Standing Policy committee to set a new four-year Operating Budget for the City of Lethbridge. We will face a number of challenges and difficult decisions related to rising costs and maintaining existing services while still trying to be fiscally responsible to our residents. Council will be focused on its strategy and direction, but we also know the financial pressures we are facing. More information here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/Outlining-City%E2%80%99s-2023-2026-Operating-Budget-process-.aspx.
At next week's meeting, Lethbridge City Council will vote to accept the third quarterly report for our Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan. The action plan includes 24 initiatives prioritized as Now, Next or Later items formally approved by Council in January. Seven initiatives have been completed, including five of the eight identified as Council's most immediate priorities, with a full quarter of activity remaining in 2022. Significant progress has been made on achieving the goals City Council set for ourselves this year. Much of the coming work for this year, as well as 2023 and beyond, will be a major focal point of November's four-year Operating Budget Deliberations. If residents would like to be directly informed, there's an option to subscribe to quarterly update newsletters, as well as a further detailed look at the Action Plan, at www.lethbridge.ca/2022ActionPlan.
I was proud to recently attend the unveiling of the Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch No. 4's new Veterans Banners initiative. These salutes, featuring a veteran's name and photo, are now on display on City street lights in several areas. Every one of them tells an important story. This initiative will begin each year around the start of October, with the banners staying up through Remembrance Day on November 11.
I was pleased to attend a recent sod-turning ceremony for the new Blackfoot lodge. This unique $3.4-million project will provide 14 safe and stable housing units for Blackfoot women and their children who are relocating from the Kainai, Siksika and Piikani reserves. Thank you to the Federal and Provincial governments, specifically Ahmed Hussen, Federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, and Josephine Pon, Alberta Seniors and Housing Minister, for their funding commitments to this vital project.
On October 4, I joined several hundred Lethbridge residents in a march from City Hall to Galt Gardens to honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and support families of those who have been tragically affected by the loss of a loved one to violence. The City has worked in partnership with Blackfoot Knowledge Keepers to develop a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls toolkit for those wanting to learn more and become an ally. It can be viewed and downloaded here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/City-Government/strategic-initiatives/Documents/MMIWG%20Toolkit_FINAL.pdf
Funding from a recent $3.8-million investment announcement from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund will soon be able to be accessed to help Lethbridge residents to make real, tangible energy efficiency and sustainability improvements to their homes. Lethbridge is one of four Alberta communities sharing in over $25 million in funding delivered through the Community Efficiency Financing (CEF) initiative to implement energy retrofit financing programs for residential properties. More details are available here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/Federal-funding-will-help-Lethbridge-homeowners-go-green.aspx. The Lethbridge program is expected to be available in late February 2023 and will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis to all Lethbridge homeowners.
I'm happy to announce that the Mayor's Community Hockey Challenge will be returning in late November for a second annual event. More details to come.
Congratulations this month to:
- The business community. Thank you for continuing to adapt during the uncertainty of the past couple of years. We are all looking forward to brighter days ahead
- All the nominees at the 2022 Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards. For a full list, visit http://www.lethbridgechamber.com/
- The Southern Alberta Art Gallery Social 2022, set for November 3. For more details on this and other SAAG events, visit https://www.saag.ca/
- The new Lethbridge Sport Hall of Fame inductees, who are set for a ceremony later this month
- Tsuaki Marule, who sang O Canada at the Toronto Blue Jays game on September 30 for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
A belated Happy Thanksgiving and an early Happy Halloween to everyone.
Please be safe and kind to one another.