I received this question on Facebook:
“I’m interested in what you have to say. I am noticing candidates are using a lot of the same broad stroke wording in their platforms and communication, and I’m interested in specifics. In your pillars you mentioned asking hard questions. What are some examples of the hard questions you think need to be asked and answered?”
It’s a great question. Here’s my response:
Some of what I see on the horizon will need to be some honest conversations that come as a result of the changes to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI). This is funding from the provincial government that helps support local infrastructure priorities and build strong, staff and resilient communities. Launched in 2007, this funding has helped us do things such as renovate Fire Hall #1 to become the Multicultural Centre, extend the service life of our Public Operations building by another 25 years, the 3rd Ave. S. redesign and reconstruction project, renovate the airport terminal building, the Legacy Park pavilion and plaza, just to name a few. The MSI program is being extended until 2023 – 2024, after which it will be replaced with the Local Government Fiscal Framework, at which point we don’t know what these grants will look like.
If we see further reductions in grant funding, or even if we see increases in funding, then we will need to have what could be some challenging conversations around project selection and prioritization, and we will need to evaluate our community’s immediate priorities based on funds available and community need. This may or may not include a performing arts centre or a third bridge in the next 10 years. This is why it’s important to have projects such as the performing arts centre included in the City of Lethbridge’s Capital Improvement Program, which encompasses the capital projects we will be undertaking over the next four years (2022 – 2025), as well as identifying projects, between 2026 – 2031 that may occur depending on funding, community desire, and infrastructure requirements – this is where the performing arts centre is currently sitting. 2026 – 2031 projects are not approved.
We are also going to need to have some honest conversations in the immediate future around level of service, because funds are tight. For instance, while we are running a Green Box pilot project, after the pilot, we may find we cannot sustain the program. However, we need to see that data, do the research, and ask what we’re trying to achieve and why before implementation.
I also believe we will see some challenging discussions around land development. We’ve already seen some of that with the new Municipal Development Plan and the concerns with new housing developments in the city starting before previous developments were filled in, and prescribing areas that need to be filled in first before new developments can start. Restrictions such as these can negatively impact investment and the future growth of our city, and we need to ensure we’re finding a balance between our investors and land use development requirements to ensure Lethbridge is an attractive place for investment.
I also see that we’re going to have to ask and answer some honest and open questions around social housing and social support projects, and the future direction of our city when it comes to supporting the recommendations that come out of our Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy. Where will we locate the health and wellness supports that go with that? And how will we work with all residents in this city to ensure that we are creating a space for everyone to belong.
These are only a few examples of the conversations I foresee us needing to have.
I also want to hear from you. I want to know what services you use, and where you believe things could change to make those services more efficient.
I believe in exchanging information and building relationships. If there is something in my campaign you would like to provide feedback on, or talk about, I welcome the opportunity to hear from you. The more conversations we have, the more opportunity we have to learn.