Weekly Round Up Oct. 21

Highlights from the week’s meetings…

This week’s update focuses on highlights from the Oct. 17 Council meeting and two Standing Policy Committees (Economic, Oct. 18, and Cultural and Social, Oct. 19).

Video and agenda packages for all meetings is available at: https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/AgendaOnline

City Council, Oct. 17, 2023:

  • Monthly Encampment Strategy
    • The encampment team continues helping to guide encampment response, which includes outreach services for individuals experiencing homelessness
    • Work is being done to coordinate efforts and plan for warming centres
    • Latest stats show 377 calls for encampments since June 19
    • A full report can be found at: https://www.lethbridge.ca/news/posts/october-encampment-strategy-update/
  • Collaboration with Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ)
    • A response to a request from the BRZ to work with the City to formulate joint recommendations on how to address issues experienced by Downtown businesses
    • The BRZ indicated this was a great start to finding some long-lasting solutions regarding the issues in the downtown core
    • It is anticipated that initiatives would initially focus on the downtown and move out to the rest of the city

I supported this motion, because there is a need for the City of Lethbridge to work with the BRZ, and this motion, at this time, addresses the majority of requests of the BRZ. I also see this as a catalyst for the creation of a Downtown Neighbourhood Association whereby Downtown residents will also be empowered to participate in Downtown initiatives and activities as those directly affect them as well.

  • Clean Energy Improvement Tax Bylaw
    • In August 2021, Council approved the Clean Energy Improvement Tax Bylaw that would enable the City of Lethbridge to create a low interest loan program for residential property owners to upgrade their properties to be more energy efficient or that would generate energy
    • In February 2023 the program went live and reach capacity on March 6 with 47 applications being placed on a wait list
    • Changing the bylaw to remove the annual cap amounts allows for an expedited service delivery of the program and allows homeowners to access the program in a timelier manner

I supported this change as it allows residents access to the funding faster. We know that we have a waitlist for 2024 – residents need the service, and contractors are out there and ready to work. There is also limited financial risk to the City as the loans are collected on property tax, and we are able to collect the full amount on the property tax of the individual who is taking advantage of this loan.

Economic Standing Policy Committee, Oct. 18, 2023:

  • Lethbridge & District Exhibition Quarterly Report
    • Saw a record attendance of 77,263 at this year’s Whoop-Up Days and 5,116 attendees at the Lethbridge & District Pro Rodeo
    • More than $68,000 went back into the community through Whoop-Up Days-related initiatives
  • Lethbridge Housing Authority (LHA) Tax Request
    • LHA is a Housing Management Body under Government of Alberta legislation and operates 860+ rental accommodations and issues an additional $4M in rent subsidies to the most vulnerable in our community
    • LHA is also involved in the provision of services as well as oversight and administration of grant funding, which ensures accountability and performance from service-providing partners
    • The group came forward to request municipal property tax exemption for its properties

The recommendation to Council is that the report presented by LHA be referred to Administration to work with LHA to draft a presentation on the options available along with financial implications and bring those forward to the November Economic Standing Policy Committee Budget Review meeting.

I supported this recommendation as I still find there are too many gaps in the information Council has received – what other not-for-profit, charitable organizations that provide deeply subsidized or affordable housing are also paying property taxes, and if these groups were to come forward with the same request what would that amount look like?

Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee, Oct. 19, 2023:

  • Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy allocation request for $230,000 in Reaching Home funding for a 24-hour drop-in centre
    • Work is being undertaken for a 24-hour drop-in centre during the winter months.

I supported this recommendation as this is another piece of the puzzle in supporting our vulnerable population. This is not a shelter, but a 24-hour drop-in warming centre.

This week at City Council:

And don’t forget our Community Conversation at the ENMAX Centre, Monday, Oct. 23, 3 – 7pm. Learn more at: https://www.lethbridge.ca/news/posts/what-to-expect-at-next-weeks-community-conversation/. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

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