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Council approves free bus passes for refugees

​Refugees coming to Lethbridge this year will be welcomed with a ticket to ride as they settle into the community.

On Tuesday, Lethbridge City Council voted unanimously to direct Administration to extend the Recreation and Culture Fee Assistance Program to include the provision of free bus passes for a six-month period for any new refugees arriving in Lethbridge in 2022. They will be available beginning next week.

"We are welcoming these refugees to our city and our country in increasing numbers and they often do not have transportation for access services in the community and for their day-to-day needs," says Councillor Ryan Parker, who brought the motion forward at Tuesday's meeting. "We as Council are thrilled to do what we can to try to make life a little easier for our new refugees. We want to embrace and help these individuals as they settle in our community."

During Tuesday's meeting, Acting Mayor Belinda Crowson introduced the idea of using the existing Recreation and Culture Fee Assistance Program to simplify the process for City Administration and to provide refuges with access to the other services within that program.

"The Recreation and Culture Fee Assistance Program has been running since 2015 and is a great way to provide opportunities for residents who may face financial barriers to participating in recreational and cultural opportunities," says Mike Fox, Director of Community Services. "Adding Lethbridge Transit passes for our incoming refugees this year will be a welcome addition."

Funding for this initiative will be allocated from Council Contingencies up to a maximum of $90,000. As part of Tuesday's resolution, a report on the initiative will be provided to City Council by October 25, 2022.

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