July 2022 Mayor's Column
We all know how great Lethbridge is and how we can continue to make it even better.
Two significant recent happenings – a top-10 placing on Canada's best small cities list and a major appearance on Amazing Race Canada – will certainly help get the word out to everyone else.
Lethbridge was just ranked 10th overall on Canada's Best Small Cities report by travel advisory giants Resonance Consultancy. The opening line says "Of all Alberta's second cities – the oil and gas engines of industry like Red Deer or Fort Mac, or the pockets of urbanity among natural wonders like Banff, Canmore or Drumheller – none are Wild Rose Country distilled as much as Lethbridge." Read the full report here.
Victoria and Kelowna were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 with the criteria based on: Place (natural and built environment); Product (attractions and major institutions); Programming (arts, culture, entertainment and culinary scene); People (immigration rate and diversity); Prosperity (employment and corporate landscape) and Promotion (online recommendations and recognition).
Lethbridge was specifically ranked high in the 'place' and 'product' categories. Resonance also highlighted our regional tourism opportunities with our close proximity to Waterton Lakes National Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.
Lethbridge was back in the national television spotlight on Tuesday night, as CTV's popular reality show The Amazing Race Canada featured a major stop in our city for the first time in its eight seasons.
A viewing party was held at Festival Square as a collaboration by Tourism Lethbridge, the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) and the City of Lethbridge. The consensus from Tourism Lethbridge is that this was "an incredible opportunity to show the rest of Canada all that Lethbridge has to offer culturally, artistically and geographically" and to anticipate some direct impact from the increase in visibility from the episode. Thanks to everyone involved in this production!
City recently voted to direct Administration to extend the Recreation and Culture Fee Assistance Program to include the provision of free bus passes for a six-month period for any new refugees arriving in Lethbridge in 2022. They are now available.
As Councillor Ryan Parker, who introduced the idea, said "We as Council are thrilled to do what we can to try to make life a little easier for our new refugees. We want to embrace and help these individuals as they settle in our community." Read more here.
City Council has also been progressing steadily on its Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan and will present its next Quarterly Report at Council's next meeting, set for July 26. This second quarter will also mark the debut of a new Action Plan newsletter. If residents would like to be directly informed as we move through the year, they can now sign up to receive the newsletter right to their inbox. See more information here: www.lethbridge.ca/2022ActionPlan.
Being Economically Prosperous is one of the Action Plan's strategic focus areas. Earlier this month, Council approved existing 2026 capital projects within the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to allow the four-year capital and operating budgets to be aligned starting in 2026 for the 2027-2030 budget cycle.
We want to ensure we're being responsible financial stewards for our residents and this decision will help with better coordinated budget timelines moving forward. Read more here. Public engagement for the 2023-2026 Operating Budget will begin in mid-August. Lethbridge City Council will meet as Economic SPC for Operating Budget deliberations from November 14-18.
I was one of 23 mayors in Calgary last weekend to meet as the Mid-Sized Cities Mayors' Caucus (MCMC). To qualify the number – our 23 communities have a collective population of more than one million people, which would represent being the total equivalent of being Alberta's third-largest outright behind Calgary and Edmonton. Our unifying message is that we are the economic engine of Alberta right now and that we want to work together and work with the Provincial Government to enable a positive infrastructure funding model when the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) comes into effect in 2024.
Our City Council will continue to advocate the other orders of government on behalf of Lethbridge for the services needed. We continue to advocate to the Province for much-needed transitional and supportive housing. We have a new promotional video to support and advocate for a family physician recruitment and retention plan.
We are listening to you, Lethbridge.
- Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden staff for the official grand opening of the Bunka Centre this week
- Lethbridge's Rachel Nicol who recently won a bronze medal for Team Canada in the woman's 4×4 100-metre medley relay at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest
- Joe Arntsen, Justin Hall and Ty Nash of the Lethbridge Hurricanes who were all invited to NHL Development Camps
- The Lethbridge Heat softball U17 team for their provincial D gold medal, the U15 for their provincial D silver medal and to the U13 team for their appearance at provincials
- All the organizers of the recent Lethbridge PrideFest, the Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival, Street Machine weekend and all of the other great local summer events. The Lethbridge International Air Show on July 30-31 is on deck!
Another reminder as a heat wave settles in, with temperatures in the low to mid 30s, that the City of Lethbridge has tips to help residents beat the heat and stay safe. Read more here.
Please be safe and kind to one another.