An engaged community
One of City Council's goals within our strategic plan is to encourage and enhance citizen engagement. We know all citizens have different needs and different levels of interest in City activities. The best way for City Council to get information to the public and get feedback, is to give a variety of engagement opportunities and touchpoints with the City. I'm happy to say we are trying some innovative new ways to help make it easier and more inviting to become an engaged citizen.
West Lethbridge residents will want to mark September 21 on their calendar. There will be a drop-in Community Information Session held at the ATB Centre from 3-7 p.m. to talk about meeting the challenges of growth in west Lethbridge. Over the past five years, population growth in west Lethbridge has been moving at a faster rate than other areas of the city. According to our 2016 municipal census, nearly 40 per cent of our city's population now lives on the west side. This community event will help address issues such as traffic congestion, new leisure facilities and improving access to shopping, schools and libraries.
An exciting new opportunity is happening October 12 when City Hall will be opened up for 100K day. As Lethbridge inches closer to being a city of 100,000 residents, we want to reflect on what that will mean for our community. How will we grow, protect our environment, celebrate our past and plan for the future? The community is encouraged to come chat about these and other topics like the river valley, cycling, transit, recycling and more. There will be food, kids activities, give-aways and presentations. It's promising to be a fun and informative event for everyone. Be sure to stop by between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to talk about our future.
Last weekend we held the first ever meeting of our Citizens Assembly. This group of 36 randomly selected residents will spend three Saturdays together to learn about municipal government. It is a very diverse group of enthusiastic participants that have given up their free time to be involved. Their goal is to provide a recommendation to council on Councillor's employment hours and compensation. The time spent in this process helps give participants the background they need to make an informed recommendation and to understand the topic from all angles.
I want to thank our entire Citizens Assembly for their commitment. For members of the public who would like to be involved in the process, the Citizens Assembly will host a Public Round Table Meeting on October 6 at City Hall from 6-8 p.m.
Being an engaged community isn't always about giving information and getting feedback – sometimes it's just about having some fun. That's exactly what we are doing this weekend as we celebrate the grand opening of ATB Centre – Phase 1. Today at 10 a.m. we will hold the official ribbon cutting ceremony followed by fun, free community activities throughout the weekend. My council colleagues and I will be out participating in activities that will showcase our amazing new hockey, figure skating and curling facilities. All of the weekend events are available at www.lethbridge.ca.
Earlier this week Council met as the Community Issues Committee. We were presented with the Destination Management Plan which provides direction for tourism development, management and marketing in Lethbridge for the next 10 years. It is a framework that our tourism industry partners can use to work together and achieve common goals. I look forward to seeing how this plan can move our city forward as a tourist destination.
Council also met as Finance Committee and was presented with a mid-year operating forecast from City administration. This check-in helps Council and City business units understand where they are within their budget and to make adjustments if needed. I am pleased to report that overall, the 2016 operations of the City of Lethbridge are expected to be in a positive position by the end of the year.
Included in this report is a list of innovations and efficiencies being achieved. This is a look at ways in which the City is being forward thinking and working to protect the environment with an emphasis on reducing operating costs. Council directed administration to gather this important information to help support us in our responsibly for the financial oversight of the City.
Highlights of this report include some creative new practices, particularly in our new ATB Centre. We are now using waste heat from the refrigeration plant to heat the dressing room floors and the snow melt pit. When Phase 2 it completed, even more waste heat recovery can be used in place of burning natural gas which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Phase 2 will include automatic window tinting to reduce the amount of solar heat gain entering the building and reducing cooling costs.
These are just a couple of ways in which the City is working to be innovative and efficient. The full report is available online at www.lethbridge.ca/agendasandminutes as part of the Finance Committee agenda. I encourage residents to read through and see the many ways in which we are protecting and planning for our future.