In April 2019, the Community Social Development (CSD) department at the City of Lethbridge published a five-year strategic plan to inform and improve community wellbeing and safety in Lethbridge. The Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy (CWSS). is grounded in research, data analysis, best practices and community engagement.
To discern the priority social challenges in Lethbridge, a comprehensive needs assessment was completed. These findings showcased that to best address social issues in our community an intentional collective effort was needed across the sector. Stakeholders strongly supported the development of strategic community priorities to help advance work in the same direction.
To coordinate and implement these community priorities, the City of Lethbridge acts as the backbone administrative organization and supports many programs and partnerships. Many immediate actions are taken to improve public safety and cleanliness, while we work to develop long-term sustainable solutions to improve supportive housing options, addiction and mental health supports and access to social services for vulnerable people in our community.
To address concerns about the cleanliness and safety of Lethbridge, many programs and services exist to reduce the impact of negative street behaviors and promote a welcoming, safe and inclusive community. This includes the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy – a city-led strategy to coordinate and implement initiatives to mitigate the immediate and day-to-day impacts of drug use, theft, crime and erratic behavior in Downtown and surrounding areas.
Some key initiatives include:
Safe Community Call Centre:
Administered by the Canadian Mental Health Association, the call centre coordinates the community response to street behaviors, biohazard clean up, and encampment removal. Call 825-399-SAFE should you require support.
Needle Pick-up Hotline:
Call the community hotline at 403-332-0722 for needle and drug debris pickup and disposal.
To learn more about all the city-led clean and safe initiatives, click here. And, for a printable public safety contact information poster, click here.
Every community across Canada is struggling to address ever-increasing challenges relating to social issues and community safety. In Lethbridge, community safety has been identified as the leading concern by our citizens.
This is a community problem that requires a collective solution. All levels of government must come together with key community stakeholders including the police, the education system, the faith community and service providers to identify the actions and resources required to achieve success. We need to leverage and coordinate all available resources to generate collective impact.
During phase 1 of the implementation of the CWSS, the four strategic directions were applied internally to Community Social Development strategies, committees and funding portfolios. The goal with phase 2 is to apply these concepts community-wide. Through the development of the Community Wellbeing and Safety Taskforce, community leaders and key stakeholders will come together to develop a collaborative approach to achieving social change in Lethbridge. This initiative will aim to create a community governance model founded on a shared vision, common objectives and efficient use of resources. This will be a made for Lethbridge solution developed by the community for the community.
While this work takes place, a number of additional initiatives are underway to address systematic issues that impact vulnerable people in Lethbridge. These address areas such as housing, homeless, COVID-19 and improving access to social services in our community.
Some key initiatives include:
Permanent Supportive Housing Consortium:
A Lethbridge-based Permanent Supportive Housing Consortium was developed to streamline access, resources and cultural supports to community-wide housing services. In addition to three local service providers, the initiative is supported by many community partners to ensure appropriate clinical, financial and safety supports are in place. Alberta Health Services and the Primary Care Network work in partnership with the City of Lethbridge to oversee clinical care for consortium participants and for ongoing program development and advancement. Through added funds, existing supportive housing beds in Lethbridge increased from 9 to 52.
Working in collaboration with the Government of Alberta, the City of Lethbridge supported the implementation of Alberta's addiction recovery communities. Lethbridge will see an increase of 16 new treatment beds, with an additional 141 new beds created throughout Southern Alberta.
Community Pandemic Social Response:
The City of Lethbridge facilitated the development of a digital community-led response to support Lethbridge residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative garnered international recognition from the World Health Organization. Made up of 146 members that represented approximately 50 local organizations, this network provided supplies, assistance and programming to address the emergent needs of those most susceptible to poverty, social isolation, homelessness and food scarcity. It is now a long-term, collaborative and sustainable solution to maximize community support that will be used in future city planning and emergency response.
Integrated Coordinated Access (ICA):
Currently in development, the ICA network will provide streamlined access for residents to receive tailored support by connecting individuals to the right community services through consistent system navigation and referral processes. This integrated delivery model will enhance client experience and reduce service duplication. It will link people to services that include adaptive case management, addiction and mental health supports, counselling, housing supports, and more.
To learn more about all the system-level work underway and the progress we've made to advance community wellbeing and safety, read our 2020 Annual Report.