Excitement is growing as Phase 2 of the ATB Centre and the new Cor Van Raay YMCA get set to open later this spring.
Local community leaders and media representatives were given an exclusive tour on Wednesday of the nearly completed facility, which features an abundance of open space, natural light, a 30,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fitness centre, 62-space child-care facility, a massive gymnasium and, of course, the centrepiece for the entire facility — a stunning aquatic centre.
“The aquatic centre has several different amenities,” explained project co-ordinator Ashley Matthews. “The waterslides, the wave pool, teaching pool, lazy river, lap pool and a surf simulator, which is really new and exciting for Lethbridge. The aquatic area is going to be fantastic, especially for families.”
Matthews, who led the tour, has been acting as the City’s point man as the $150-million project has moved from the drawing board into a full-blown reality. He was certain the citizens of Lethbridge will feel they are getting their money’s worth, and more, when they get full access to the Phase 2 area later this spring.
“To see it all come together in a facility like we have here today is fantastic for this community, and it is long overdue,” he stated. “All other communities our size have a facility like this. Not as large as this one, but fairly similar. This facility will service our community for many years moving forward.”
Fertilizer terminal planned
Canada’s largest consumer co-operative organization is investing $41.8 million in southern Alberta agriculture.
Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) will start construction this spring on a high-throughput fertilizer terminal near Grassy Lake.
The 34.400-metric-tonne terminal is planned to be fully operational by the summer of 2020. It’s expected to create about 150 jobs during the construction phase.
“This facility supports local co-ops and is the next step on our journey to grow within the crop inputs business,” said Patrick Bergermann, Federated’s associate vice-president of “Ag and Home.”
“This is a long-term investment back into Western Canada that will help us better serve and meet the needs of local co-ops along with their members and customers.”
The state-of-the-art facility will feature a railway “looptrack” to accommodate 110-carunit trains, allowing it to quickly download fertilizer component products. It will also be able to fill a super B trailer with straight product in about six minutes.
The Grassy Lake terminal will be the third built recently by Federated Co-Op to warehouse, blend and distribute a full suite of crop nutrition products to locally owned Co-op Agro Centres — which then supply these products to their farm customers. In 2017, it built a 45,000-metric-tonne facility at Hanley — south of Saskatoon — and a 27,500-metric-tonne terminal at Brandon.
Adjournment request denied
The old legal expression goes, “the lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client.” As David Stephan returned to the Court of Queen’s Bench in Lethbridge Monday to represent himself and wife Collet in the case management hearing in the lead-up to their retrial for their role in the death of their son Ezekial — even Stephan seemed to acknowledge the wisdom of this statement.
Stephan requested that the case management hearing, which is set to run for the next two weeks, be adjourned on its first day so he could properly prepare to defend his various applications before the courts to have the case dismissed. He admitted to struggling to wade through the hundreds of pages of disclosure which he has received since he had informed the courts he would be self-defending for he and his wife, which was complicated by the fact he was also learning court procedures at the same time.
Justice John Rooke was not sympathetic — dismissing the Stephans’ application for adjournment out of hand. He reminded Stephan the case management hearing had been set on June 11 of last year, before he had fired his lawyer. And that the Stephans had refused to submit a Rowbotham application, which the Crown had been prepared to support, to have a court-appointed lawyer assigned to their case last fall after they had parted ways with their previous lawyer officially on Oct. 18.
They had also received the majority of their requested disclosure by Nov. 29, Rooke reminded Stephan — a full three months before this hearing was set to begin.
Stephan argued with Rooke on this point. He implied if he were a lawyer Justice would have permitted the adjournment.
Questions raised over NDP event
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley hosted an event at Chinook Regional Hospital Feb. 23 to address opposition leader Jason Kenney’s recent statement of how the United Conservative Party plans to privatize and cut funding for health care in Alberta, but not without sparking calls for an Ethics Commissioner Investigation for violating the Premier’s Office rules and Alberta Health Services (AHS) policy.
Notley joined Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips, MLA Maria Fitzpatrick, United Nurses of Alberta Vice President Susan Shelton and nurses within the hospital to voice their concerns about the proposed cuts. During her statement, Notley talked about the renovations her party funded in Lethbridge, while criticizing how the opposition would remove valuable resources.
“There is more to do to build on that progress and the absolute last thing that Lethbridge and across southern Alberta need is the kind of devastating cuts to health care that my opponent in the next election is proposing,” says Notley.
“Roughly 200 fewer nurses in Lethbridge alone, in just one term will be cut and that is the last thing this community needs, but that is what Mr. Kenney’s plan for health care in this community amounts to.”
Locals named to council
Three southern Albertans have been named members of the province’s first anti-racism council.
They’re among 24 women and men selected for their expertise and experience to assist in the provincial government’s commitment to end racism.
The council includes 24 members plus Education Minister David Eggen, who is responsible for government’s anti-racism initiative. The council will advise government as it develops strategies to end racism and discrimination in Alberta.
Melodie Bastien from Brocket will serve alongside Nadine Eagle Child and Roy Pogorzelski from Lethbridge.
Bastien is the NorthStar parent connector at Opokaasin Early Intervention Society in Lethbridge. She provides one-on-one support, wraparound support services and cultural programming for families. Bastien participates in the Blackfoot Traditional way of life within the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Eagle Child is a student counsellor at Red Crow Community College and an executive member of the Apiistamiiks — White Buffalo Trail Blazers, a grassroots group fighting against racism, hate and discrimination in Southern Alberta.
She has also served as the co-chair of the employment and education subcommittee with the City of Lethbridge’s Interagency Group, and chair of the Student Success and Retention working group under the Iniskim Education Committee at the University of Lethbridge.
Pogorzelski is the director of Indigenous Student Affairs, an instructor for the Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge and owner-operator of three business. He is also a member of the U of L senate, a board member with the YMCA of Lethbridge, president of the Rotary Club of Lethbridge Mosaic and board member of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce.
Pogorzelski is also an appointed director for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and sits as its adviser to the National Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination.
Seminar addresses issues
About 60 downtown business owners and stakeholders took part last Tuesday in the first of what is expected to be monthly Business Education Seminars at Casa.
The seminars, co-hosted by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown BRZ, the City and the Lethbridge Police Service, are intended to address some of the major questions and issues facing the downtown, said City Manager Bram Strain.
“The people who are most impacted or affected by the (downtown) situation we have are the people in the room here,” said Strain, who was also one of the guest speakers at the inaugural event. “A lot of the initiatives we’re going to talk to is because of meetings with this group of people. We want to say we have heard you and now we are reacting to it.”
“People also can get first hand information,” Strain acknowledged. “The rumour mill is very strong. People make assumptions with social media, and it doesn’t take too long for something to get out there to be perceived as fact when perhaps it is not 100 per cent accurate.”
Lethbridge Police Chief Rob Davis was the other guest speaker for the first Business Education Seminar. He spoke about the Ambassador Watch program and other details of the City’s downtown safety and security strategy.
Sign of the times
The growing number of Lethbridge Transit riders will now be aided by big-city technology.
Audio and digital display “next stop” announcements were introduced Monday on all scheduled services, similar to notifications given on the CTrain in Calgary and on other services across the nation.
“Accessibility and mobility are extremely important on any transit system,” explains Mike Ross, the Lethbridge system’s operations manager.
Lethbridge was one of the first cities to provide low-floor service on all its routes, on buses designed to “kneel” to the curb level and equipped with flip-open ramps to facilitate wheelchairs, seniors’ walkers and baby strollers.
“We are excited to be able to provide this new feature to make it easier for our entire community to use transit,” Ross says.
The automatic system cost about $420,000 installed, paid for by federal grants and the province’s ongoing GreenTrip program. Passengers may have seen it operate during system testing in recent weeks.
Technicians tried several volume levels to ensure the announcements could be heard above the road and engine sounds, Ross added. With several manufacturers and drivetrain variations in the 42-vehicle fleet, not every bus has the same sound level.
“There will be ongoing testing,” he said.
More candidates named
Two more candidates have been named to contest southern Alberta constituencies in this spring’s provincial election.
Zac Rhodenizer will represent the Alberta Party in Lethbridge West. A teacher and counsellor at Ecole Nicholas Sheran and Coalbanks Elementary, the 13-year Lethbridge resident is an education, modern languages and counselling psychology graduate of the University of Lethbridge.
While politics should be about visionary leadership, he says today’s parties “are too busy fighting and finger-pointing.”
The Alberta Party offers a break from that, he says.
“We’re a team of innovators and problem-solvers who want to build a stronger, kinder, more prosperous province.”
Rhodenizer will be holding a “town hall” meeting March 7, at 6 p.m. in the Crossings Branch Library.
In the Taber-Warner riding, Laura Ross-Giroux will represent the New Democrats. A former town council member and a community volunteer, she says Albertans should insist on getting “every dollar of value for the oil and gas resources that belong to us.”