December 2023 Mayor's Column
I want to begin this month with a sincere Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our Lethbridge residents!
This, of course, will be the final monthly column installment of 2023 – a year which has certainly had plenty of items on the go throughout.
During the past two weeks, I have had the wonderful opportunity sit down for a series of year-end interviews individually with each of our local media outlets. I want to thank each of 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 social issues, economic challenges, Lethbridge and District Exhibition, downtown and water, among other topics. We also spoke about the successes of our Community Conversations, Encampment Strategy and physician recruitment.
I am proud of the work completed or underway from City Council and City Administration. As we head into 2024, we will continue advocacy efforts and continue working towards making Lethbridge the best city it can be.
There has been a lot of recent talk in the community about the Lethbridge and District Exhibition.
On Monday, Council held a Special Meeting and approved initial steps that would pave a new path forward for Lethbridge and District Exhibition and the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre. In response to a letter of intent received from the Lethbridge & District Exhibition, City Council passed a resolution that will provide emergency interim resourcing to create stability and business continuity and explore a vision for the future.
As I stated in a news release Monday, this is not a position we ever wanted to be in. But the reality is, this organization is in financial trouble and change is needed. I am extremely proud of how City Council and Administration have come together to take a leadership role in this change and work with the Lethbridge & District Exhibition to make that happen. We want to reassure the community, and those who have invested in this facility, that the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre remains open for business.
These important transformations will ensure the clarity and information needed is available to inform good decision making. It will also provide transparency to the community regarding how public dollars are being spent. Please read the full news release for all the details here.
The Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre is a world-class facility that presents tremendous opportunity for our community. Council has been, and continues to be, strong supporters of this project. It’s important that we protect the significant financial investment the City has made in this project, as well as the investments the Provincial Government and other funders have made in our community.
At our last full Council meeting on December 12, my colleagues also approved Terms of Reference for the new Downtown Lawlessness Reduction (DLR) Task Force. It will consist of members from the Downtown BRZ, City Administration, Lethbridge Police Service and Lethbridge Fire and EMS, as well as myself and Acting Mayor John Middleton-Hope as our Council representation.
With Council’s approval, the DLR Task Force will be reviewed prior to December 31, 2024, for possible continuation. When required, recommendations from the Task Force would proceed through the Safety and Social Standing Policy Committee (SPC).
Public safety for our residents will always be Council’s No. 1 priority and one of the core purposes of a municipality is to develop and maintain a safe and viable community. The purpose of this Task Force is to tackle the issues head on. The Terms of Reference does not in itself have financial implications; however, financial requests could be forthcoming as the DLR Task Force proceeds with identifying and recommending initiatives that support their mandate.
This team had its first incorporated meeting on Tuesday this week and we are pleased that this group is helping to create a safer community.
I don’t want to dive too deep into social issues here in this space, but I do want to highlight a recent compilation piece that our Communications and Engagement team produced. Partnering with the Government of Alberta and community stakeholders, the City of Lethbridge has expanded involvement and taken action with more than 15 new initiatives during the last year that are helping move the community towards solutions. This timeline outlines the aggressive steps taken and actions achieved since this time last year. Please read the story here.
Here is a quick refresher list of some other good news pieces from 2023:
- Signing the Buffalo Treaty
- New City website
- Electric vehicles and EV charging stations
- More public drinking water stations
- Upgrades to Council Chamber
- Funding for TV and film
- New pickleball courts and community play boxes
- New Oki signs at schools
- Clean Energy Improvement Program
- New Whoop-Up Drive emergency protocols
I plan to recap all of these, as well as information on many other topics, at the next Mayor’s State of the City (SOC) address – which will be hosted by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce on January 18, 2024.
In addition to the SOC, I want to remind our residents that we have many other ways for community members to stay informed. They include:
- This Mayor’s monthly column for the City website and the Lethbridge Herald that highlights the great things happening in our community
- Our City of Lethbridge website, which includes the news subscription and closures pages
- Our City of Lethbridge engagement website at ca, which seeks feedback and has information about coming projects
- 311, via call or chat, to have your questions answered
- City Council and Standing Policy Committee meetings, which are open to the public. Agendas are published here a week ahead of each meeting
A special congratulations this month to Peter Anholt, the General Manager for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He is the lead member of Canada’s management team for the 2024 World Junior Championship, which is set to begin in Sweden on Boxing Day. Good luck, Peter, and Go Canada!
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 can 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.