Lethbridge area businesses are coming together to help those affected most by the Fort McMurray fires.
A large number of ag producers, businesses and the Lethbridge College Students’ Association, have been working together with the goal of sending a large amount of cash and a truck filled with supplies up north.
Farmers, corporate farms, local Hutterite colonies, along with ag companies such as Cargill Canada have been involved in providing those donations which will be going to the Edmonton Food Bank. The Lethbridge College Students’ Association have also made a sizeable donation of food, water and other items.
Cameron Dewey, VP Operations and Finance for LCSA, said the group’s involvement began after making a post to Facebook.
Donations, when they started coming, were fast and furious, according to Dewey.
To start things off, the association kicked in the funds to purchase a pallet of water bottles — 48 packages of 40 bottles. They are also donating toiletries and, as of Thursday afternoon, had already amassed around 250 pounds of food.
“It’s been going great,” Dewey said. “And it’s been going extremely fast.
Among the many other donations being made through local businesses are:
• Pure Power Wrestling challenged other local businesses to meet or beat its $100 donation over social media on Thursday;
• AMA and the Lethbridge Fire Department are holding a charity pancake breakfast for Fort McMurray on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the AMA parking lot. A minimum $5 donation is requested;
• Bridge City Chrysler is accepting donations, and cash donations will be matched up to $10,000;
• Lethbridge Mitsubishi and Northside Lethbridge Dodge are accepting donations; and
• Neiboer Farm Supplies from Nobleford is collecting a trailer of supplies.
The federal government has said it will match all individual donations made to the Red Cross. To donate, visit redcross.ca or text REDCROSS to 30333, which will make a $5 donation that will appear on your phone bill.
Bright future for ag programs
A post-secondary representative navigated the future direction, challenges and benefits of new programs for the University of Lethbridge’s and Lethbridge College’s memorandum of understanding.
David Hill, U of L and Lethbridge College director of development for the Southern Alberta Agriculture program, outlined what the college and university are trying to do by developing new programs in agribusiness and agriculture.
The initiative brings together academic training, research and applied research at the U of L and college, which Hill hopes will open a larger industry network to students.
“There’s some interesting ways in how programs will be delivered that will be very unique for students,” Hill said. “We’re looking at more opportunities for students in agriculture and agribusiness to participate in co-op programs, in internships, that will draw more connection with industry.”
These new networks, Hill believes, can draw more students to Lethbridge’s post-secondary institutions and show business students the rewards of a career in agriculture.
“If we’re successful in drawing more students to think of business careers that focus on agriculture, that in and of itself will produce lots of economic and social benefits for southern Alberta,” said Hill. “Those people will actually hone their craft close to home and then it will be exportable to other places.”
MLA pleased with progress
For Maria Fitzpatrick, MLA for Lethbridge East, it’s become a time for listening, learning — and looking ahead.
Elected one year ago as a first-time candidate, Fitzpatrick was part of an historic New Democratic Party sweep across Alberta — after four decades in power for the Progressive Conservatives.
Despite abysmally low income from energy-sector royalties, she believes Premier Rachel Notley and her government already have solid accomplishments to their credit as they start their second year in office.
“But there is still a lot more to do.”
Alberta’s new government has followed through on promises to protect funding for education, health care and social services, she points out. At the same time, it’s creating jobs by investing in public infrastructure projects.
This spring’s budget gave the go-ahead for many “shovel ready” projects including new schools, the university’s “Destination” science complex and further upgrades to Chinook Regional Hospital.
“I think it’s been a productive year, not just in the legislature but for everyone in the Lethbridge community.”
While Fitzpatrick heard what many Lethbridge voters wanted — or didn’t want — during her election campaign last year, she says she’s learned much more since then.
“There are so many initiatives going on I was just not aware of,” she says, and community issues a little below the surface. Lethbridge people from many backgrounds have come to her office on 13 Street South.
PCs readying for byelection
The Conservative Party of Canada is getting ready to hit the ground running for an upcoming byelection in Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner
Members of the party met through the riding last weekend to discuss the byelection for the seat left vacant following the sudden passing of Jim Hillyer on March 23.
“The board is very conscientious and is looking forward to a very even and fair process,” said Marilyn Elliott, one of the national councillors for the Conservative Party of Canada in Alberta.
To date, Glen Motz, a retired Medicine Hat police officer, and Brian Benoit, a former businessman, have announced they intend to seek the nomination for the Conservatives. Elliott says she has heard through the meeting that more names could potentially enter the race.
“There’s been a lot of people kicking tires, but we’ll see who actually submits an application form,” she said.
To be able to vote for the Conservative nominee, voters have to be a member of the Conservative Party for at least 21 days prior to the first voting date, which has not yet been set. Memberships can be purchased at http://www.conservative.ca.
Council approves rationing plan
In case of a potential water shortage this summer, Lethbridge City Council has approved new rules and regulations for water rationing and a system of fines for non-compliance.
Council was presented a Water Rationing Action Plan for consideration in February, and at Monday’s meeting approved changes to the Water Service Bylaw.
Given the lower-than-usual precipitation in the last year, current forecasts, and the present state of the Oldman River Reservoir and St. Mary River Reservoir, council voted in favour of putting the plan in place, if needed.
The Water Rationing Action Plan is a proactive plan to help prepare for, respond during, and recover from a water-rationing situation.
For long-lasting situations, the action plan describes four stages with increasing restrictions on water use. It also identifies the rapid and intense response required for short-term water emergencies.
The goal is to protect public safety by ensuring residents have access to treated potable water, and providing communication and education about when water rationing is required.
Based on similar plans from California and British Columbia, the strategies include measures such as restricting days and times when watering can be done, discouraging car washing and closing spray parks.
The plan also allows for specified penalties for non-compliance with a water-rationing order as an alternative to shutting off water service.
Sign bylaw nixed
A proposed portable sign bylaw to address moveable digital signage within the city has been given the red light, for now, by Lethbridge City Council.
Two bylaws were brought forward at the April 18 council meeting — the portable sign bylaw and a bylaw to amend the Land Use Bylaw 5700 to incorporate changes made to the Portable Sign Bylaw.
After a three-hour public hearing the same day, in which council heard several presentations from concerned citizens and business owners, a decision to vote on the bylaws was postponed until Monday’s meeting.
In November 2013, city council, in response to public concerns, directed the Municipal Planning Commission to recommend new rules for digital signage. The Portable Sign Bylaw was the second phase of the effort.
The portable sign bylaw proposed control over the duration, animation and brightness of digital displays on private property, where signs may be placed at selected city intersections, and a system of fines and penalties for non-compliance.
During the public hearing, council had asked questions about what types of signs would be exempt, what is considered distracting, and whether all stakeholders were given a fair chance to air their concerns.
Council voted down both bylaws on Monday, suggesting the Municipal Planning Commission revisit them to work out some details of concern.
City hosting tour
It’s no secret the Tour of Alberta, a professional cycling race, will be returning to the City of Lethbridge this year, but now it will be in a different capacity.
The City of Lethbridge had previously agreed to host the opening prologue stage on Aug. 31, after city council committed to provide $300,000 in funding required to secure the event.
However, the organizing committee was given the opportunity to host the Stage One Circuit Event on Sept. 1 instead.
The 2016 Tour of Alberta will feature five stages taking place at different locations across the province over five days. Edmonton is to host the final stage on Sept. 5. The field of competitors will include approximately 120 of the world’s best cyclists.
The circuit stage would be a nine-lap, 11-kilometre loop versus the prologue’s one-lap timed trial. The entire peloton would be seen approximately every 15 minutes for a total of nine passes on the route, as opposed to seeing cyclists race individually at one-minute intervals.
More roads will need to be closed, including 3 and 4 Avenues South, however, there will be the ability to provide frequent traffic bleeds for drivers to get in or out.