In response to resident concerns, as well as the general aesthetics of City parks and open spaces, Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 to re-invest funding back into the Parks budget this year.
To address immediate concerns, Council will add $100,000 back into the Parks budget for 2021. It will be funded from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR).
Through the Operating Budget Review in November 2020, City Council voted to reduce the Parks budget by $590,500 annually.
"Many of our residents are expressing extreme dissatisfaction with reduced service levels in our parks and open spaces, including weeds in green spaces and medians, as well as lessened dryland mowing further reducing the visual aesthetics," says Councillor Blaine Hyggen, who introduced the resolution. "Today's decision by Council is a significant move to rectify some of the issues identified by concerned residents."
Lethbridge has 2,900 hectares of park land requiring maintenance, which is higher than any other benchmarked community, as noted in the 2020 KPMG Operational Review Phase 2 report.
As part of Tuesday's resolution, City Manager Craig Dalton is also to report back to Council in Spring 2022 for information on the outcomes of these budget changes and their impact on the general aesthetics of the City's parks and open spaces.
The original resolution was split after a motion to divide, proposed by Councillor Rob Miyashiro, carried 6-3. Part 2 was defeated in a 6-3 vote. It would have added $404,500 back to the Parks budget in 2022.