The City of Lethbridge, the Downtown BRZ and representatives from downtown business community held a press conference in Festival Square last week to address criticisms of the new parking kiosks and the zone parking system in the downtown core.
Andrew Malcolm, downtown revitalization manager for the City of Lethbridge, admitted to being surprised by the early wave of criticism and negativity the changeover had in its first few weeks.
“We are three weeks into the new parking meters, and we have heard a lot of feedback from the public,” he said. “Both positive and negative. We have had a variety of complaints, but I think the number-one complaint was probably in relation to the Zone 2, which is the core of the downtown. And what potential challenges that creates for businesses that have longer than two-hour service: restaurants, tattoo parlours, hair salons — that potentially extend past the two-hour limit.”
Malcolm said the City would be taking all the feedback it receives on the new system and will work toward refining it to improve the downtown parking experience for everyone, but, he stressed, the system seems to be functioning well overall.
Stafford YWCA closing
The YMCA of Lethbridge announced it will be closing its Stafford Drive location when the new Cor Van Raay westside location opens at the ATB Centre in 2019.
YMCA board chair Stephen Mogdan cited untenable maintenance and infrastructure replacement costs at the aging downtown facility as the primary reasons the board made the decision to close rather than trying to operate two facilities in the city.
“There were a number of factors which have gone into the decision, and very important in that is the cost of maintenance and capital replacement,” he said. “We are looking at very aged, and frankly crumbling, infrastructure for plumbing, HVAC and mechanical boilers — all those things, there is a cost. That was a very major part of the decision.”
According to a media handout provided by the YMCA, the cost to maintain and replace aging infrastructure at the downtown facility over the next four years would be approximately $3.4 million.
Owl amphitheatre opens
The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre celebrated the grand opening of its new FortisAlberta Owl Amphitheatre with a barbecue luncheon and a little help from Fort Macleod W.A. Day School students.
The $250,000 covered, outdoor, shaded structure was largely paid for by FortisAlberta, and will allow, as the name suggests, Birds of Prey Centre staff to have better conditions for public presentations on owls, which can be extremely sensitive to hot weather in the summer.
Birds of Prey Centre director Colin Weir led an owl demonstration in the new amphitheatre for W.A. Day students to mark the occasion.
“We have been working on this for about three years,” said Weir afterward. “Every time FortisAlberta helps us out it is like another quantum leap in the quality of the facilities we have. It really enriches the experience we have for these school children that we have an all-weather facility where we can do programs about owls regardless of how hot the summer days are, or if it is raining.”
FortisAlberta vice-president of customer service Todd Dettling was on hand to help open the new amphitheatre. Dettling said because his company is having to deal with risks to birds of all kinds in its business on a regular business, it was important to work with organizations like the Birds of Prey Centre to help educate its operators on how best to mitigate those risks.
People happy with city
Everybody loves Lethbridge.
A recent poll by Ipsos Public Affairs shows citizen satisfaction regarding the quality of life in Lethbridge to be very high at 97 per cent.
Overall satisfaction with city programs and services were also ranked very high, and perceptions of municipal government remain positive, according to the 2018 Community Satisfaction Survey commissioned by the City of Lethbridge.
The results of the survey were presented to council.
“This survey provides important information that helps guide city council regarding budget matters and other important decisions,” said Coun. Mark Campbell, who chairs council’s Open and Effective Government Committee. “It is important for us to rely on statistically valid information to help inform our decision making in the next few years. We appreciate all residents who took the time to complete the survey.”
The vast majority of residents polled (97 per cent) responded that the overall quality of life in Lethbridge was either “very good” or “good.”
More than a golf tourney
This was more than another stop on the MacKenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada trail.
This particular stop came with a history lesson.
The inaugural Lethbridge Paradise Canyon Open ran until Sunday at Paradise Canyon Golf Resort as 156 golfers competed for a $36,000 cut of the $200,000 total purse.
As golfers from around the world hit a few practice shots at the driving range over the last few days, the unfamiliar, rolling hills right in front of them caught their attention.
It also prompted a question or two which put Paradise Canyon Golf Resort owner Ron Sakamoto into the role of historian.
“This is so unbelievable,” said Sakamoto at the media conference kickoff to the four-day event. “They said it’s like dinosaur land. So I said ‘well, those are called coulees.’ These guys are from all over the place, Australia and Europe and South America. So I told them I was going to explain what coulees are. In the old days when the French traders came out they had big ravines with water on the bottom and that’s what the French traders called the coulees and that’s where the name comes from. Whether they knew it or not they just nodded their heads and said ‘Oh OK.’”
WestJet launches service
Welcome to Lethbridge, WestJet.
On Thursday, the first arrival of a WestJet plane and its subsequent takeoff was celebrated at the Lethbridge Airport.
The second-largest air carrier in Canada will be operating three daily flights under the “Westjet Link” program.
Lorne Hickey, Reeve of Lethbridge County, said a partnership with WestJet was years in the making.
Mayor Chris Spearman said the arrival of WestJet to the community will provide growth for both economic development and tourism.
“It enhances the ability for us to attract people to our region,” he said. “It enhances the ability for us to attract more events to our region and to make Lethbridge a really vibrant community in southwest Alberta.”
He added the community at large has a role to play in making the service a success.
All WestJet Link flights will be operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines, a B.C.-based airline operating scheduled, charter and cargo services, with a head office in Richmond, B.C.
Brew to benefit charities
Two local firefighter charity groups are hoping to tap into the beer-drinking appetites of local residents to support local causes.
The Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums, Lethbridge Firefighters Charities and Theoretically Brewing Co. have announced a new charity brew.
“Kilt Tugger Red Ale” is being made and sold by Theoretically Brewing Co. with proceeds divided between Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums and the Lethbridge Firefighters Charities.
According to Jayden Poirier, manager for the Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums, the Kilt Tugger Red Ale looks and tastes similar to other red ales (think Rickard’s Red) with a vanilla finish and a lighter overall flavour.
“I really liked it the first time I tried it,” said Poirier. “It’s one of my favourite ales now.”
He said the ale may already be familiar to many in the city.
“It’s one of (Theoretically Brewing’s) best-selling beers, and they are just changing the name for us.”
Booze has health risks
The message of the larger socio-economic effects of alcoholism on society is not being properly portrayed in popular media, a Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs crowd heard on Thursday.
Al Barnhill, a former professor of management at the University of Lethbridge and president of Able Administration Ltd., said in spite of the damage caused by addiction, popular media is filled with positive messages surrounding alcohol use.
“On TV, everyone is having a good time from drinking,” he said. “They don’t show effects of alcoholism and recovery.”
Heavy or even regular alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum. There are also a number of issues related to drinking while pregnant.
According to the Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2015, in 2013, alcohol-related health care, law enforcement and lost productivity cost Canadians $14.6 billion. Globally, more than 3 million people die yearly from causes related to alcohol consumption.
U of L offers new minor
University of Lethbridge students who want to establish or advise a small business can take a new minor this fall that will give them the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed, the school has announced.
“From evaluating market opportunities and testing assumptions to analyzing financial resources and spotting growth opportunities, the Family and Small Business minor will give students broad knowledge of small business enterprises,” said Bruce Thurston, a Dhillon School of Business faculty member, in a release from the U of L.
Thurston has already taught two sessions of the first course in the minor, New Venture Startup, where students explore their business ideas over a semester, from conception to market analysis.
The current summer session course has 15 students assigned to five teams. Their ideas have spanned the gamut: a refund fee for recycling paper products from a restaurant; a keto food cart; an app for medical information; an app for home-cooked meals; and a heated apparel business.
University of Lethbridge students are being recognized for their commitment to community.
Nearly 600 U of L students have volunteered more than 7,500 hours at community organizations and are learning about civic engagement through the UVolunteer program.
The U of L has been partnering with Volunteer Lethbridge since 2015 to operate the program, which matches and tracks students working with non-profit groups in the city.
The initiative came about through the efforts of Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor, as a way for students to contribute to Lethbridge and surrounding communities.
To date, 583 students have registered with the program and have logged 7,741 hours. During the 2017-18 academic year, 89 volunteers contributed 2,296 hours.
Every year a student is brought on to assist with the program.
New ward opens at CRH
The Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation has celebrated the official opening of its Breast and Cervical Health Program ward.
The new unit integrates services for women dealing with breast cancer or cervical issues, all under one roof.
“I think (these women) know they are coming to the expertise here,” said Caroline Martin, Breast and Cervical Health Program co-ordinator. “We have surgeons for the breast and gynecologists for the colposcopy, and they know they are coming to a place where they are getting the right kind of care.”
Martin said formerly the cervical examinations were done in the Jack Ady Cancer Centre even though most women getting examined did not have cervical cancer, which led to an unnecessary heightening of anxiety for those patients.
Diet the buzzword for bees
WHile most in the public are aware there is a huge concern with long-term bee health and survivability in North America with news stories about verroa mites, fungal infestation and Colony Collapse Disorder reported regularly in the media, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientist Danica Baines suggests people may have become too preoccupied with pointing a finger at neonicotinoids and risk missing the overall picture of bee health, and how it is managed in our food-growing systems.
“What we are interested in doing is finding solutions for the worldwide bee losses,” Baines told an attentive audience at the Farming Smarter Field School just outside of Lethbridge on Wednesday. “And that involves understanding whether the bees require food supplementation at different times of their life-cycle. It also involves means we have to be creative and come with potential solutions to pesticide interactions with the bees in cropping systems.”
Baines said there is no question any applied fungicide or insecticide, including neonicotinoids, are fatal at higher exposure levels to managed bee populations, including honey bees, leafcutter bees and bumble bees, but her research suggests a change in diet and better spray management practices could mitigate those exposure risks dramatically.
Using the example of honey bees, Baines and her research team have discovered susceptibility to pesticides and fungicides is much higher in winter bees, that last colony of the year produced before winter sets in, and prior to the emergence of the new spring pollinators (about the time the dandelions come out).
“Winter bees are a lot more susceptible to pesticides than summer bees, and that is due to changes in structure of their gut,” explained Baines.
Baines and her team have experimented with adding proteins to the bees’ sparse winter sugar water diet, and found excellent improvements in overall bee health and susceptibility to pesticides and fungicides.