December 2021 Mayor's Column
Saturday is the big day!
Last month, I issued a community challenge to help out local food banks – and you responded! This weekend, the stage is set to welcome a group of community partners to play against City staff in a hockey game for a good cause.
The Mayor's Community Hockey Challenge is set to take place on Saturday, December 18 at 11 a.m. at the ATB Centre's east/blue arena. The game will benefit the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, the Interfaith Food Bank, the Lethbridge Food Bank, the University of Lethbridge Students' Union Food Bank and the Lethbridge College Students' Association Food Bank.
Entry requirements to the ATB Centre will fall under the Alberta Health Services Restrictions Exemption Program. Those wanting to attend are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food, while monetary donations will be accepted via this online donation platform.
We are excited and ready to go. We have had a great response from our City staff and our community partners in forming the team rosters and we hope to see you out this weekend to support some great and worthy charity recipients.
Intermission entertainment is being organized by the Lethbridge Sport Council and will feature eight local ice sport organizations providing demonstrations.
Thanks to all those who are participating and thanks in advance to those who can attend on December 18.
Looking back at 2021, it has definitely been a full year of newsworthy and notable items.
Between City Administration and all of the hard-working departments in the organization, as well as the previous Council and the new Council – there were some challenges this year.
As a community, we've had our fair share of obstacles to jump but we've been working hard to overcome them. City Council looks forward to sharing our work plan with the community so we can discuss the priorities we're looking to achieve in 2022.
Council is also pledging to work with our local representatives at the other orders of government – MP Rachael Thomas, and MLAs Nathan Neudorf and Shannon Phillips – for the collective goal of creating a better Lethbridge.
There are plenty of good news stories for the City of Lethbridge.
After investing $2.6 million into the airport, the City received an additional $23 million in Provincial and Federal grant funding for a variety of critical infrastructure projects. Those projects are focused on increasing passenger traffic, revenue diversification through land development, fire safety and more. The airport is key in the continued growth of our economy. The investment we've put into our airport also positions our city and region in a competitive place for business attraction and retention for years to come.
Council has continued in its efforts towards Reconciliation, including:
- Signing of Memoranda of Respect, Understanding & Partnership (MOU) with Kainai/Blood Tribe
- Permanent flying of Blackfoot Confederacy flag at City Hall
- Our new land acknowledgement video, oki & welcome
- Recognition of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30
- Permanent declaration proclaiming October 4 as Sisters in Spirit Day in Lethbridge
- Approving the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Recommendations and Work Plan
- Voting to advance the Indigenous Place-making Strategy (a review and audit of the public spaces, markers and language used by the City) a year ahead of its originally-scheduled start
In June, on the 112th anniversary of the completion of Lethbridge's iconic High Level Bridge, the City of Lethbridge introduced a fresh, new brand. This change will help build community pride while attracting new visitors, investors, businesses, students and residents.
The new westside Fire Station #5 became operational in June.
There is plenty to be excited about in Downtown Lethbridge, with the re-imagine Downtown grants, the first Targeted Redevelopment Incentive Program recipient (Six08 Health), 3 Avenue reconstruction, the success of expanded patios and parklets, as well as the new Festival Square set to open in 2022.
The Exhibition Park expansion project and agri-food hub will be a massive economic catalyst that will lead to greater investment and job creation as agricultural industries further develop in the city and the region.
The new $2.92-million Nikka Yuko Bunka Centre is now open. The project was primarily funded with a $2.538-million grant through the Federal Gas Tax Fund, plus $292,000 through the Community Pay-As-You-Go program, and $90,000 through fundraising. The Society has contributed an additional $520,000 for further upgrades to the centre's interior.
The previous Council approved the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) – doing its best to achieve a balance between essential projects and investing in projects to generate employment and improvement in the city, as well as being cautious to not spend all the funding that was available. Some of these projects will start to take shape in 2022. Here is a review: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/City-Council-approves-2022-2031-CIP-recommendations.aspx
Looking ahead to 2022, one big event is coming right away in March as we are set to host the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier. In 2020, Council pledged support in a bid for 2022 Brier – the annual Canadian men's curling championship. Thank you again to everyone who worked on this successful bid. This will be a great opportunity to showcase our city. I know we will do an amazing job! If you're looking for a last-minute holiday gift idea, Brier tickets are available at http://www.enmaxcentre.ca/.
As the holidays are upon us once again, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you, our community, for continuing to be a source of optimism during uncertain times. I'm always so proud of how we show up for each other.
Family and friends always help to spark the magic of the holiday season and I hope you and your loved ones have the opportunity to share in this joy. I know I'm looking forward to celebrating this special time of year with my family and friends.
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season and here's to a safe and healthy new year.