Lethbridge residents will provide direction in October whether its municipal government should prioritize plans in the coming years for a possible third traffic bridge crossing over the Oldman River.
Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday voted 6-3 to place a question on the October 18, 2021, General Municipal Election Ballot that reads: "Do you agree that city council should approve plans to construct a 3rd bridge prior to 2030 as a municipal capital project priority?"
"Council is acutely aware that a third bridge has been a major topic of discussion in the community for many years," says Mayor Chris Spearman, who introduced the motion. "By placing this question on the election ballot in a non-binding manner, the next Council will have some new and informative resident-driven data to analyze moving forward."
As part of the approved resolution, Council directed Administration to provide objective and neutral information on the City website on the following:
- Expected capital cost
- Current traffic volumes including peak and non-peak times of day
- Impact of borrowing required funding on municipal taxes
- Impact of external grants, if received from provincial and/or federal governments
- Expected economic benefit due to construction
- Expected economic benefit post construction
- Ongoing budget pressure associated with ongoing maintenance
- Estimated impact of greenhouse emissions and environmental impact
The Chinook Trail River Crossing (Preliminary Design) was included as part of 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In June, Council approved the first four years (2022-2025) of the 10-year capital plan. The Chinook Trail River Crossing is currently set for a $4-million preliminary design in 2027, which is outside of the four-year approval window. Projects scheduled beyond 2025 would come back to the next CIP deliberations.
An election ballot question is non-binding and the next Council can potentially further debate direction moving forward based on question results.
On July 13, Council voted to also place a question on the October 18, 2021, General Municipal Election Ballot that reads: "Do you support using a ward system to elect City Councillors (other than the Mayor) starting with the 2025 municipal election?"