It is now day 102 on the job for Mayor Blaine Hyggen and the new Lethbridge City Council, as Wednesday marked the 100th day since they were sworn in to office.
"What a great honour and privilege it has been to serve Lethbridge residents for these first 100 days," says Mayor Hyggen. "At the swearing-in 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."
In its recently-announced Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan, Council pledged an approach that clearly articulates priorities, creates further transparency, reports performance and builds community trust.
Some of the work accomplished or underway by Mayor Hyggen and Council thus far includes:
·Supporting provincial partners in health care with family physician recruitment and retention
At the Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee (SPC) meeting on December 1, a resolution was passed to refer this item to the City Manager to continue developing an action plan to be brought back to City Council at a future meeting.
·Meetings with Ministers
At the Alberta Municipalities conference in November, Mayor Hyggen spoke with Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan about the need to get moving on the resources and services needed in our community. Mayor Hyggen recently had productive conversations with Health Minister Jason Copping, regarding working together to support the challenges our city faces. Further updates will be announced in the near future. Mayor Hyggen also met with the Minister of Seniors and Housing, Josephine Pon, and Minister of Children's Services, Rebecca Schultz, in relation to ongoing Provincial initiatives.
Mayor Hyggen recently met with Mike Ellis, Associate Minister of Mental Health & Addictions, as the City continues to work to support the Provincial Government and agencies who provide the programs and services related to addictions and mental health in our community. Mayor Hyggen has also met with the Fresh Start Recovery Centre.
·Crime prevention strategies
In addition to the ongoing work of the Lethbridge Police Commission, Mayor Hyggen has regular meetings with Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh to discuss possible solutions to safety concerns in Lethbridge.
Mayor Hyggen has previously stated that: "We still believe that a third-party review is required to investigate what has happened in the past, what is currently happening today and ensure accountability going forward. We'll be further investigating options that will help us elevate this issue and protect the safety of our residents."
·Establishing an Indigenous Resource Hub
On February 1, Council voted unanimously in favour on the Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy (CWSS) funding allocation approval for an Indigenous Resource Hub, including $496,248 in annual funding (from provincial and federal grants), leveraged from Outreach Support Services Initiative (OSSI) & Reaching Home (RH), to be allocated to the Blood Tribe/Kainai Nation to deliver the Indigenous Resource Hub services.
·A review of the cityLINK transit system
After receiving more public feedback before proceeding with any further decisions and direction, the Civic Works SPC on February 3 directed this matter to a future Council meeting.
·Airport Incentive framework
On January 18, Council voted to approve a new Airport Incentive Framework to discuss potential agreements with airlines regarding future options for passengers flying in and out of the Lethbridge Airport.
·Third bridge update
On December 14, Council voted unanimously to have City Administration investigate further into the potential location of a possible third crossing over the Oldman River. Council has asked Administration to report back the findings by September 2022. With a goal of identifying potential funding sources, Council has also asked for Administration to identify an anticipated cost to construct the third river crossing at the site or sites identified. Mayor Hyggen has also met with Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, to discuss the environmental process for a potential development in and around the coulees.
·Investigate the possibility of moving to a 'ward' electoral system
On February 1, Council has asked Administration to report back, through the Governance Standing Policy Committee, by April 30, 2022, on what legislative requirements, engagement, timelines, costs and resources it would take to potentially implement a ward system.
·Mayor's Community Hockey Challenge
At this event in December, approximately 615 pounds of food donations and gifts received, plus almost $3,000 in financial contributions, raised an estimated total of $4,500 for local food banks.
A further detailed look at Council's Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan is available at Lethbridge.ca/2022ActionPlan
Mayor Hyggen's 2022 State of the City address can be viewed here.