February 2022 Mayor's Column
Welcome to the second hundred set of days with our new City Council.
Earlier this month, we marked the 100th day since we were sworn in to office – and I want to begin by saying again what a great honour and privilege it has been to serve Lethbridge residents as your Mayor and Council.
Some of the work accomplished or underway by Council thus far includes: supporting provincial partners in health care with family physician recruitment and retention; meetings with Ministers; addiction recovery; crime prevention strategies; EMS dispatch; establishing an Indigenous Resource Hub; a review of the cityLINK transit system; airport Incentive framework; third bridge update; and investigate the possibility of moving to a 'ward' electoral system.
Read more here.
This week, Council appointed Lloyd Brierley as the new City Manager. Brierley has signed a five-year contract to lead the organization, after holding the position of Director of Infrastructure Services since last fall. Brierley steps into the City Manager role following the resignation of current City Manager Craig Dalton. I am extremely confident in Lloyd's abilities and experience. He is a well-respected leader who will bring stability to the organization while still seeking out new opportunities, under Council's Action Plan, to better serve our community.
In its Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan released last month, Council pledged to investigate the possibility of moving to a 'ward' electoral system for as early as the 2025 Municipal Election.
That review received further support on February 1 as Lethbridge City Council voted unanimously to have City Administration provide a future report, for consideration, that will outline the process to examine, develop options, decide and implement a ward system.
Lethbridge currently has an 'at-large' electoral system for electing Councillors. A 'ward' electoral system would see the city divided into smaller geographical electoral areas (wards) and electors would vote from a smaller list of candidates for a Councillor that wants to represent the ward that you live in. The method of election for the Mayor would continue to be a separate at-large vote.
In a non-binding ballot question at the 2021 Municipal Election, 55.69 per cent of residents that voted said yes to "Do you support using a Ward System to elect City Councilors (other than the Mayor) starting with the 2025 municipal election?" A full background is available here.
Council has asked Administration to report back, through the Governance Standing Policy Committee, by April 30, 2022, on what legislative requirements, engagement, timelines, costs and resources it would take to potentially implement a ward system.
Also on February 1, Council voted unanimously in favour on the Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy (CWSS) funding allocation approval for an Indigenous Resource Hub, including $496,248 in annual funding (from provincial and federal grants), leveraged from Outreach Support Services Initiative (OSSI) & Reaching Home (RH), to be allocated to the Blood Tribe/Kainai Nation to deliver the Indigenous Resource Hub services.
Council is moving along well in its Action Plan so far and I look forward to providing monthly updates in this space.
I recently submitted a Mayor's message for the program for the coming 2022 Tim Hortons Brier at the ENMAX Centre here in Lethbridge! Our city is the Gateway to Opportunity – and we are proud to have a storied history of hosting major curling events to show for it.
Lethbridge has previously hosted the 2019 World Men's Curling Championship, the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship, the 2017 World Senior Curling Championships, the 2012 World Women's Curling Championship and the 2007 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
By hosting the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier from March 4-13, Lethbridge will become the only city to have hosted each and all of these events. What a notable accomplishment!
It is truly an honour to have the Brier in our city and we wish all of the teams the best of luck in the competition. Let's have a safe and successful event!
Another major sporting event is set to wrap up this weekend, as the Beijing 2022 Olympics will conclude. There have been several Lethbridge connections at these Games.
Former University of Lethbridge athlete Ryan Somner and Lethbridge-born Taylor Austin competed in bobsleigh. Florian Linder, a former sprinter with the University of Lethbridge and former Lethbridge College employee, was the Technical Coach and Performance Analyst for the Chinese Bobsleigh team. Kaleb Muller, a member of the Lethbridge Speed Skating Association, was named as a non-travelling alternate to the long-track speed skating team. And former Lethbridge Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong was a member of Team China's men's hockey team.
I was one of the almost five million Canadians who was cheering on the women's hockey team to its gold medal late Wednesday night. What a great game! Congratulations to everyone involved on their efforts at the 2022 Olympics!
There is still time to this year's Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) polar plunge event, as the virtual plunge season runs until March 12, with fundraising open until March 20.
Council members John Middleton-Hope and Jenn Schmidt-Rempel have both recently agreed to participate. They will both be first-time jumpers and will accept any words of encouragement you may have for them before we make our jumps on February 25.
This event raises awareness and funds for Special Olympics athletes and my fundraising link is here.
This weekend will see the return of the International Peace Powwow to the ENMAX Centre. I truly am thrilled to have been invited to bring greetings on behalf of Mayor and Council to what is certain to be a wonderful event.
And last but not least for February – a Happy Family Day to everybody. I hope everyone can spend time with their families this weekend. And if you can't be together in person, I encourage you to reach out to each other, even with a phone call. Mental health is hugely important, so it is vital to check in on your family and offer them whatever you can – even if that just means listening. Take care, be safe and be kind to one another.