December 2022 Mayor's Column
Well, Lethbridge, we are rapidly approaching the end of another year. And as I look back at 2022, there is no question that it was certainly full of newsworthy and notable items.
This week, I had the wonderful opportunity sit down individually with all of our local media outlets for a series of year-end interviews. I want to thank them for asking questions on the challenges we are facing as a community, but also for the chance to reflect and highlight all the good news stories and positivity happening in Lethbridge.
They asked about jurisdictional matters with the Provincial and Federal governments, physician recruitment and retention, social issues, community safety initiatives approved in the new four-year Operating Budget and the property tax increase. I want to reiterate some words I have said often this year: this Council pledged an approach that clearly articulates priorities, creates further transparency, reports performance and builds community trust. We are proud of the work completed or underway. As we head into 2023, we will continue advocacy efforts and continue working towards making Lethbridge the best city it can be.
In those year-end media interviews, I was able to discuss the Intergovernmental Health Table – the one-of-a-kind partnership between key stakeholders, including the Blood Tribe Department of Health, Alberta Health Services, Federal representation and several Provincial ministries, to try and tackle the health and social challenges of the city and surrounding areas.
We also spoke about the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier held in Lethbridge in March, just as pandemic restrictions were starting to be lifted, and the amazing economic impacts that event had for our city. We talked about Lethbridge Airport, where major investment has taken place and will benefit the region moving forward, and Festival Square, where grant money provided a catalyst for a variety of events. I look forward to heading down there to the new skating rink soon!
I was able to highlight results of the 2022 Community Survey, which showed 90 per cent of respondents rank their quality of life in Lethbridge as good or very good. The survey, completed earlier this spring, collected residents' feedback on topics like top-of-mind issues, satisfaction, importance and usage of City services, communication, customer service, financial planning/taxation and overall quality of life.
Late last month, I was proud to host the second Mayor's Community Hockey Challenge, featuring a team of Community Partners made up from many local institutions including Lethbridge College, the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge & District Exhibition and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, as well as the City team with volunteers from a range of departments including Lethbridge Police Service, Fire & EMS, City Clerks, Land Development and City Council. Collectively, the event was able to generate approximately 240 pounds of food donations and gifts, plus almost $2,000 in financial contributions. I want to thank everyone who was so generous with their time and contributions. Times are tight for many this time of year and being able to give back to our community really helps to lift the holiday spirit. Further community challenge events are already being discussed for 2023 and I look forward to finding new opportunities to give back to the community.
Earlier this week, at Lethbridge City Council had its final meeting of 2022. Two of the items had Public Hearings featuring a number of community members presenting to Council with their concerns. I want to thank everyone for being passionate about their community and for sharing their thoughts and ideas with Council members and City Administration. Both of the Public Hearings were recessed until the next Council meeting, which is set for January 24, so I encourage more members of the public to provide their input ahead of or at that meeting.
We also voted to direct the Governance Standing Policy Committee to report back to Council by Q2 2023 with a robust examination of a 'precinct' electoral system model, being one example, and a strategy and timeline for potential implementation, including any budget and resourcing requirements. The primary impetus for amending the current model is to develop a more democratic election process that would provide for effective and efficient representation and that the 'precinct' model, as one example, is designed to eliminate the need for a further costly review process by addressing at-large representation and blending it with geographic accountability thereby improving the existing model.
Those who missed Tuesday's Council meeting can read the highlights or watch the YouTube video here.
I want to congratulate all those who were recently awarded with Alberta's Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. Larry Laverty, Manager of Assessment and Taxation, and City Councillor Belinda Crowson were both recognized for their outstanding service and for dedicating themselves to family, community and country. This year's Platinum Jubilee Medals, awarded to 7,000 Albertans throughout 2022, were created to mark the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty's accession to the throne as Queen and will be the last time a jubilee medal will be given out to honour her. Read more here.
Looking ahead again to 2023, one big event will take place right away in January. The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce is set to welcome me for the annual Mayor's State of the City address on January 19. More information on registration is available here.
And to close out this month and this year, I'd like to take another opportunity to thank you, our community, for continuing to be a source of optimism. 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 Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy new year.