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Predictable funding needed

Posted on March 12, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

A little more provincial money should be flowing into the city’s coffers in 2014.

That’s the good news from the 2014 provincial budget, according to Mayor Chris Spearman, who added the city is pleased to see a continued commitment to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI). Last year, the city’s share of that funding was reduced by about $1 million, as Lethbridge took home $15.1 million.

“We should get over $400,000 over and above what we got last year,” said Spearman, Friday. “It’s nice there was a 2.8-per-cent increase on the operating side and a commitment to the capital side.”

The MSI program helps fund several of the city’s major capital projects, including the Crossings Ice Complex, the Henderson outdoor pool basin replacement, the Leisure Aquatics Centre and the expansion of the Lethbridge Regional Police Service headquarters, according to Spearman.

But what the mayor is really hopeful for in the future, is predictable funding through that program.

“This year, the government has had a surplus, so they have restored the funding,” said Spearman, who added the hope is the province continues to be in positive financial shape going forward.

With revenues which fluctuate wildly based on up-and-down oil and gas prices and the strength or weakness of the Canadian dollar, the realization municipalities may receive unwelcomed surprises still exists. The mayor said he would like to see that impact as minimal as possible.

“We want to make sure we can sustain our operations, programs and services to the community.”

Predictable provincial government funding would benefit the city’s budget process, said Spearman, a process council will undertake this year.

Women’s achievements celebrated

International Women’s Day has been a tradition around the world for women to stand back and celebrate their achievements in the community as well as around the world.

The YWCA, along with Women’s Space Resource Centre and the University of Lethbridge campus Women’s Centre, displayed their local achievements Saturday at their International Women’s Day Festival at the Lethbridge Senior Centre Organization.

Kristine Cassie, CEO of the YWCA, said there is a need to look at the power of women and what they have to offer.

“There are still so many issues that need to be addressed, in our communities as well as world wide,” said Cassie.

She said this year’s event tried to look more toward the mentorship of the younger generations and celebrating the power of women locally with lawyers, politicians and other influential people in the Lethbridge community.

“It’s not about telling little girls that they are the princesses and that they can do anything in life, but really finding what motivates them, and to hold onto that,” said Cassie.

Cassie talked about showing the power of women and what they can collectively offer to a community is important for women of all ages to know. And working together is the best way to achieve common goals.

Special Olympians raise awareness

Lethbridge Special Olympics champion Carissa Burch and newcomer Cassie Davies helped Safeway raise awareness and money for the Special Olympics Saturday at their annual fundraising campaign.

Burch, a 10-pin bowling champion bound for Vancouver in July for nationals, wants people to know why she likes competing in the Special Olympics.

“I like to meet new people, make new friends and have some fun.”

Safeway has been a sponsor of the Special Olympics for many years and Special Olympics Lethbridge volunteer Barbara Pharis says it grows every year.

“We have a different kind of fundraiser every year. Last year they sold coupon books, but this year they are asking for donations at the till when customers go to pay for their groceries,” said Pharis.

The fundraiser helps them to advance the athletes and be able to allow more athletes to join teams.

“We are able to keep the costs of our sports down so everybody is able to compete.”

Davies, who is hoping to compete in floor hockey in this year’s events, said meeting new people and having a great time are really important to him.

Lethbridge Special Olympics Alberta is looking for volunteers willing to assist with new programs. If you are interested, contact Special Olympic Lethbridge at 403-320-6776 or Nadine Chandler at 403-329-0570 to register.

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