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June 2022 Mayor's Column

​With Lethbridge PrideFest, National Indigenous Peoples' Day, the Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival and the grand opening of Festival Square, among other events – what a week this has been to kickoff summer in Lethbridge!

Wednesday's grand opening event, the first day of a three-day festival called 'Lighting Up Festival Square,' featured stakeholders, government partners and several performances. With funding coming from the Governments of Canada and Alberta, the City of Lethbridge has capitalized on creating further economic catalysts for Downtown Lethbridge.

The $1.71 million Festival Square Market Plaza, entirely funded through the Province of Alberta's Provincial Municipal Stimulus Program, will be a versatile, active and engaging public space for people and the local businesses in the area. The main draw will be its offering as a permanent market space with supporting infrastructure to support local producers, artisans and craftspeople a place to sell their wares year-round. The project includes an interactive stage, entry signs, decorative column lighting, programmable lighting and site furniture, as well as water/wastewater servicing and lane rehab.

The $10.083-million 3 Avenue Reconstruction – funded with $7,453,000 from the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF, formerly the Federal Gas Tax Fund) and $2,630,000 from the City of Lethbridge – features upgrades to underground infrastructure and improved access, traffic efficiency and safety making it a more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly street.

We are grateful to our Federal and Provincial partners for their financial support in helping these projects contribute to the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Lethbridge. We believe Festival Square will build off the success of our patio and parklet infrastructure investment. Read more here.

In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples' Day on Tuesday, the City of Lethbridge marked the day by encouraging the community to add a Blackfoot word into their vocabulary.

Sikoohkotoki (Sik-ooh-kotoki) is the Blackfoot word for the land Lethbridge is located on. By bringing attention to the word and working to incorporate it in every day conversation, it helps to recognize Blackfoot culture throughout the city and beyond. Part of moving toward Reconciliation is learning and celebrating the role Indigenous culture plays in our community, We're fortunate to be located in the heart of Blackfoot territory and are home to the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region III, so we have lots of opportunities to learn from the Indigenous peoples who have called Sikoohkitoki home for hundreds of years. Read more here.

On Monday, I was pleased to attend the Pride Flag raising ceremony outside Lethbridge City Hall to help kickoff Pride Week in Lethbridge. Lethbridge PrideFest has events all week, culminating with Pride in the Park on Saturday. Have a great week, everyone!

This weekend also marks the return of the Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival, which is always another one of the biggest events in our city. I wish all the teams, volunteers and spectators a wonderful weekend.

On Thursday, the Governance Standing Policy Committee received the results of the 2022 Community Survey – which showed that 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. As we head into the Operating Budget deliberations this fall, we need to understand how our community feels about the programs and services we provide so we can make good funding decisions. It also helps us evaluate our strengths and areas for improvement. For a full report on the survey along with the results from past community surveys, visit here.

Council continues to hear about physician recruitment as a major priority for our residents. Prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all residents is a top priority within Lethbridge City Council's Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan and, as such, Council has committed to partnering with key stakeholders to help recruit more family doctors to Lethbridge. Read more here on last month's Council decision to partner on a family physician marketing and recruitment campaign. Watch the advocacy video here.

Another prioritization identified by Council in its Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan was examining a potential Election Ward System. Earlier this month, Council voted to proceed with forming a commission to undertake detailed analysis and engagement to possibly implement a Ward Electoral System in time for the 2025 municipal election.

Once formed, the commission of public members with related backgrounds, along with appropriate non-voting supporting resources, will review whether or not to recommend to Council that a ward system be implemented. Through their work, the commission could also suggest other recommendations to improve Lethbridge's political system. The commission's timeframe to compile a report of recommendations is suggested from November 2022 to November 2023. It is anticipated that the report of recommendations would be an extensive document to include details of all the analysis, engagement, options, rationale, and recommendations including a ward system model, maps, populations and a draft of the Electoral Ward Boundary Bylaw. Council will then consider the Commission's recommendations. Read more here.

The end of June is nearly here and that means July 1 is right around the corner. We couldn't be happier to have the return of in-person celebrations this year with the family-friendly activities returning to Henderson Lake Park and Galt Gardens. Read more here.

More and more great summer events include Lethbridge Bulls baseball, Shakespeare in the Park, Street Machine weekend from July 7-10, the return of the Lethbridge International Air Show on July 30-31 and the Lethbridge Electronic Music Festival on August 27. Whoop-Up Days 2022 will also take place from August 23-27, featuring the return of the parade and professional rodeo.

Get out and enjoy the summer, Lethbridge! Please be safe and kind to one another.

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