April 2022 Mayor's Column
November is still many months away, but it was at the centre of an important Council decision recently in order for the Royal Canadian Legion to move ahead with installing more than 70 banners on light standards in several areas across the city.
At its meeting on April 5, City Council voted unanimously to approve the "Salute our Veterans" project and financially contribute $20,500 from the Council Contingencies fund. This is a great initiative and Council is proud to support our veterans. Later this year, our residents will see banners, designed to honour veterans, near 1st Ave South, the Lethbridge Airport, 4th Avenue South (in front of City Hall), around the Legion, and on 5th Avenue South near the Army, Navy, Air Force Club.
In another recent unanimous vote, Council provided its support for Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services to donate some surplus items to help support relief efforts in Ukraine. Items identified for donation include medical kits, disposable wound care items, personnel protective equipment, as well as retired safety equipment, boots, gloves, helmets and clothing. These items have been collected, catalogued and donated to local Ukrainian relief organizations for transport and distribution in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with those in Ukraine dealing with this tragic and awful ongoing situation. This is one way Lethbridge is doing what it can to help provide support to relief efforts.
Council also recently supported a motion I brought forward to write a letter to the Province of Alberta to request support for an increase in the scope of cardiac services offered in the South Zone, including the development of an interventional cardiac services program (Cardiac Catheterization Lab) at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge. This is a much-needed area we need to have addresses and I look forward to working with the Province to move ahead.
Last week, I was happy to welcome the return of school group tours at City Hall. Students from Father Leonard Van Tighem School were able to see my office and Council Chamber, as well as take part in a mock City Council meeting! It was a great time and I want to thank the students for their interest and great questions.
Ahead of a planned grand re-opening of the Lethbridge Airport next month, last month I was pleased to welcome Flair Airlines and their forthcoming direct, weekly flight from Lethbridge to Tucson, Arizona. We have been proactively preparing the airport for an opportunity just like this. Several of the initiatives within Council's Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan are focused on moving the airport forward and this work aligns strongly with our strategic priories of economic prosperity and supporting the region.
Council's 2022 Action Plan also lists "Explore the creation of a community care campus" as a priority initiative. Council recently voted unanimously to approve a budget up to $100,000 from Council Contingencies to procure a consultant to do the following: 1. Conduct community engagement on the creation of a made for Lethbridge Community care campus; 2. Create conceptual designs for a community care campus; and 3. Develop a business case for a community care campus.
A community care campus refers to either the integration or co-location of housing and homelessness resources (along with other pertinent services such as mental health and substance use supports) as a method to end chronic homelessness and enhance accessibility of services for clients. We know there is ongoing need for synergized, long-term accessibility of services for clients and we look forward to potentially taking the next steps in this process.
Earlier this week in Calgary, I took part in a Recovery Capital Summit conference which was focused on strategy for mental health and addictions recovery. I look forward to discussing some potential initiatives further with my Council colleagues.
On April 4, after long last, a grand opening event took place at the ATB Centre for the introduction of the permanent location for the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame. Sports and sporting events have the power to bring people and cultures together and this local commemoration is great to see. One night later, I was pleased to attend the Lethbridge Sport Council Achievement Awards banquet where 17 local athletes and teams were recognized for accomplishments they achieved in 2021. For a city our size, we have certainly produced an incredible amount of amazing athletes, coaches, builders and Olympians.
On behalf of City Council and our residents, oki and welcome to the 2022 Alberta Treaty Hockey Games taking place in Lethbridge this weekend. With more than 130 teams here, using almost every ice surface we have in Lethbridge, this tournament is sure poised to put on a great show for players and residents alike. Sports and sporting events have the power to bring people and cultures together. Events like this help to bring Reconciliation into focus with a social and cultural lens that perhaps some folks haven't encountered before. It's one of the reasons I love this game. Sport really is the great unifier. To the visiting teams: please enjoy your visit to our welcoming Lethbridge community! Let's have a safe and successful event!
Congratulations and thank you to outgoing Lethbridge College President Dr. Paula Burns, who is concluding her time in our city. We appreciate all of the efforts you have contributed to our community during your time in Lethbridge. Congratulations to Lethbridge singer-songwriter Shaela Miller, one of the many talented artists in our city, who was recently named the winner of Project WILD. And congratulations to our Lethbridge Hurricanes for yet again clinching a playoff spot. I look forward to playoff action in front of fans at the ENMAX Centre! You may even see me riding an e-scooter to get there.
Residents will have likely noticed the introduction last week of Neuron's fleet of e-scooters and e-bikes in the city. As a short update to some questions I have received, please be reminded that Neuron is running a pilot project. As the service and demand patterns become established, Neuron will be open to discussing lowering the minimum riding age. They also launched the service in south and west Lethbridge to serve key markets related to the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge College, and the downtown. Phase 2 of the pilot, anticipated for late April or early May, could see additional e-scooters and e-bikes arriving in the city – along with possible expansion into north Lethbridge, provided that demand and the number of trips stays strong.
National Volunteer Week is April 24-30 and I want to thank all the volunteers for your dedication and commitment to the Lethbridge community.
Be kind to one another and Happy Easter, everyone!