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July 2023 Mayor's Column

If you’ve happened to look at the current 14-day forecast, you know it’s about to get very hot in our city. While this can be enjoyable for many, sustained high temperatures can also very quickly become quite dangerous.

As temperatures are expected to reach 32 C or above for most of the next two weeks, please check the City of Lethbridge website for any updates to the Extreme Temperature Response Protocol. Heat waves cause an increase in heat-related illness, enhance drought conditions and can cause a significant long-term draw on power. Residents are encouraged to be mindful of the use of electric appliances and keep air-conditioning units at a moderate temperature to help prevent overloading the power grid.

I want to remind everyone that seniors, low-income people and those with mental health issues are likely most at-risk during extreme temperatures. The City’s website has tips and ways to ensure residents are staying cool and safe during the expected high temperatures, as well as a list of local service organizations to help during an extreme weather declaration. More information here.

Please be safe. Wear sunscreen. Limit outdoor activity. Drink plenty of water.

On that note, we have recently installed four new drinking water stations as part of a pilot project around the city. The water stations are hooked up directly to water hydrants which allows easy access to water 24/7.

During this pilot phase, the stations are located at Nicholas Sheran Park (near the pathway just south of the elementary school), Legacy Park (immediately north of the spray park), Henderson Lake Park (near the Nikka Yuko parking lot) and in Galt Gardens (directly in front of the SAAG building on 3 Avenue). More information is here.

Lethbridge was recently ranked No. 9 for the safest metropolitan place to live in Canada. This was according to a study compiled by Rentola, a rental home search engine, using data on four areas: crime severity index, non-violent and violent crime severity index, crime-solving rate and how many police officers there are per capita. Cities were then sorted by their average score.

Calgary was ranked No. 20, Edmonton was 21 – and Lethbridge was the only Alberta city in the Top 10. The site notes that “although the safest cities in Canada have notably lower crime rates compared to other areas, it’s essential to recognize that no city is completely immune to all types of crime. However, the top-ranked cities have demonstrated effective safety initiatives, community engagement, and proactive measures that significantly contribute to their overall safety.”

Thank you to several local media outlets, including The Herald, for running this good news story. And while this is great news, it is one study. We know that other studies and reports can use and read data to support other narratives. The Lethbridge Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) was ranked No. 1 on the 2021 Statistics Canada Crime Severity Index. Numbers for 2022 should be anticipated in the next few weeks.

It is important to acknowledge that our CSI number has decreased each of the past three reports. The Stats Canada data also uses the Lethbridge CMA, which includes several communities outside the city. For comparison, Red Deer does not have a CMA but their CSI was 30 points higher than the city of Lethbridge (when you remove the surrounding communities). While not without some challenges like those most municipalities across North America are facing, we most certainly have a beautiful and safe community here in Lethbridge. We need to remember that.

A recurring question I, and the rest of Lethbridge City Council, often get is a variation “why aren’t you doing more on this, this or that topic?” People often refer to items such as social issues, economic development, tourism, and the list goes on. What residents need to understand is that not every matter is covered under the primary jurisdiction of City Council. As such, we spend a lot of time and effort advocating to other orders of government on behalf of our residents.

This week was a great example. I invited several Alberta Government Ministers to our city and I was able to have engaging and meaningful conversations with them. Our Council will always continue to advocate for services and needs for our city and we hope to have further good news to share in the weeks and months ahead.

City Council will meet on Tuesday, July 25. You can see the agenda and watch the livestream here and public attendance is always welcome.

Late last year, City Council made one of its easiest decisions of recent memory when we approved a new multi-year sponsorship deal with the Wade Galloway Foundation to rename the site formally known as the SLP Skate Park to the Wade Galloway Skate Park.

On Saturday, July 22, at 11:30 a.m., we will have a grand renaming event, at the corner of Mayor Magrath Drive and Parkside Drive South, featuring a free BBQ for the first 200 visitors.

As most people are aware, Wade and I were close personal friends. His untimely passing in 2014 was an extremely sad and tragic time and I still think about him frequently. His passion and dedication led to the construction of the skate park and I am very proud of the legacy he has left.

I’m excited that one of the marquee events of the summer is set for next weekend, as the 2023 Lethbridge International Air Show is set to hit skies from July 29-30. More information is available here.

The Air Show will also be one of the highlights for visitors coming to Lethbridge as part of the Saint-Laurent Senior Exchange Program. Saint-Laurent, Quebec, is the official twin city of Lethbridge. The two communities entered a formal city-to-city twinning arrangement in 1967 as part of a Canadian Centennial project to promote cultural and social relationships between Eastern and Western Canada. Exchanges occur annually, alternately involving seniors and students. This year’s exchange begins with the Saint-Laurent delegation traveling to Lethbridge from July 26-31, with the Lethbridge delegation travelling to Saint-Laurent from August 30-September 4.

I am also pleased to announce that the Mayor’s Community Barbecue will return following the Whoop-Up Days parade on August 22. I will share further details in next month’s column.

As always, be kind to one another.

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