Mayor addresses local concerns at SACPA

·2 min read

Lethbridge mayor Blaine Hyggen, spoke at Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) as a guest speaker on Thursday.

The first issue brought up in his presentation was community safety and how a community survey identified this issue as one that’s important with the community. Hyggen said council requested more Sheriffs and the request was denied by the provincial government.

“We did do some of the requests in council. We asked to have an increased Sheriff presence here in town or Sheriffs to be in town as we have seen that was something that was addressed in Calgary and Edmonton, possibly away mitigate some of the concerns and the safety issues we were feeling. So we did put that request forward they did come back that it was not approved,” he shared.

He summarized a few sections from the letter received from Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services, regarding why the request was denied.

“They are currently at capacity and not able to request further deployment of them at this time,” shared Hyggen.

Hyggen was first elected to city council in 2013 and was then elected mayor in 2021. He expressed details regarding some of the issues at the encampments.

“It’s important that we make sure there is safety, not only for those that our neighbours are living close but also for those who are within the encampments, and as we noticed there were numerous stabbings and there were sexual assaults and there was a shooting in the tent area so as these developments become entrenched this is where the concern is,” he said.

During the question period, Bev Leatherston, one of the audience members, asked why an old Safeway no longer in use could not be used for the homeless during the colder season. She suggested improvements for traffic on Whoop-Up Drive and a solution to overcome the challenge with the third bridge.

“The other suggestion I had is looking forward to the future, and that is to look at a monorail that goes around Lethbridge the downtown, and it goes to the College and to the south side where the stores are. . . then it comes across to the westside. Stops on the westside, stops at the university, then comes back around. It could be electric. It could be a future thing,” she said.

Subjects that were presented ranged from encampments, homelessness, community safety, the electoral system, third bridge, physician recruitment, intergovernmental health, and green bins.

Steffanie Costigan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald