The Lethbridge Police Service is working with the Alberta Solicitor General’s office to ensure its new community peace officers have several enhanced authorities granted to them which peace officers normally do not receive.
Sgt. Mike Williamson, who oversees the CPO program on behalf of the LPS, reported to the Community Issues Committee on Monday that the LPS is seeking enhanced authority for its 13 new community peace officers in several areas.
Williamson told council it wants the officers granted the authority to make arrests on all hybrid and summary offences established under the Criminal Code of Canada, including offences like theft under, fraud under, minor assault, uttering threats and arresting those unlawfully at large. The LPS also wants its CPOs to be able to execute arrest warrants on all such offences when necessary.
The second area where the LPS is seeking enhanced authority for CPOs is related to expanded authorities under the Traffic Safety Act, petty trespass and “everything in between,” Williamson said.
And the LPS wants CPOs in Lethbridge to have transport authority for all prisoners into any jurisdiction.
These enhanced duties would be on top of all authorities CPOs usually possess to enforce municipal bylaws.
Williamson said the police service sees the CPOs as a “feeder league” for the regular police service as officers retire or move on to other jurisdictions. He said he expected the CPOs to be out on the streets working with training officers from the Downtown Policing Unit by the end of June.
Rally sends message
A large crowd gathered outside of Lethbridge City Hall Tuesday evening for a rally and march to support gay-straight alliances, in response to the United Conservative Party’s education plan revealed early in their election platform.
Currently in Alberta, by law schools must allow children to set up the peer support groups and must protect the identities of the individuals involved to prevent them from being outed to their family and potentially start a dangerous situation. If elected, UCP Leader Jason Kenny says he would replace the NDP’s School Act with the former Progressive Conservative government’s Education Act update, which would allow teachers to be able to inform parents their child has joined.
“I support LGBTQ rights and I think that GSAs should be something that kids choose to engage in without having to worry about the possibility about being outed,” says Caitlin Sommer, rally supporter. “Not everybody, especially kids, have a safe space and I think that it is really important to be able to facilitate that so kids have somewhere to go so that they are not alone with whatever they are experiencing.”
Gay-straight alliances are used as a safe space for kids to learn, grow and discover while creating a non-judgmental community. For many of these children, having their parents notified they have joined the schools QSA or GSA can place them in danger. Currently in Canada 40 per cent of youth who are experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ2S; 34 per cent of those say violence or abuse made them leave home; and over 80 per cent of LGBTQ2S students reported being discriminated against because of their sexuality in school. Many supporters at the rally say the privacy in GSAs is vitally important to the health and safety of LGBTQ2S children.
“I think GSAs are very important, I was a part of one in high school, and thanks to those I know that because of those a lot of my friends are still alive which is great and I want that for future generations. Children deserve privacy,” says Sharon Lindsay, rally supporter.
Bin rollout starting
With the first 5,000 blue bin carts arriving in the city as of Tuesday, the rollout can begin in earnest, says Joel Sanchez, City of Lethbridge general manager for Waste and Recycling.
“We’re really happy to start now moving forward with the final step,” he says. “We have about 5,000 carts that have arrived in the first two days, and we’re expecting to have somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 this week. We will start rolling those carts out to residents next week. At this point, we are planning the carts will be delivered from April 15 up until the first week in May. We are going to start on the northside and then move southwest delivering those carts to all the residents.”
Sanchez says bi-weekly blue bin material pickups should commence in mid-May, and confirms residents will receive a map and table with their new blue carts showing locations and dates when local pickups will begin. After that, blue bin collection will alternate every other week with black cart garbage collection.
Sanchez was asked if garbage pickup being left to every second week won’t allow that garbage smell to become overpowering, and possibly attract rodents or other pests.
“That’s one of the main reasons we did a pilot,” he explains. “We had our phase one rollout with 900-1,000 homes, and during that year with the pilot we had residents on a bi-weekly garbage collection.
New YMCA to open May 4
The public will get their first chance to see and access the new Cor Van Raay YMCA at the ATB Centre on May 4.
Mayor Chris Spearman made the announcement of the “soft opening” on Monday morning in the YMCA’s new basketball court and gymnasium with interested spectators and media looking on.
“The facility looks fantastic,” said Spearman, “and I can hardly wait until the citizens get to see it. That’s what today’s announcement is about: the citizens get an opportunity to come in and see the facility. I believe this will be the second largest (YMCA rec.) facility in Alberta. It will be one of the largest YMCAs in North America; so I think Lethbridge has something to be proud of.
“This will be a community facility for the whole city, and it will be accessed by people from across the region. I think it is a source of pride we are able to build and construct a facility of this quality right here in the City of Lethbridge.”
Lethbridge YMCA board chair Stephen Mogdan said the May 4 opening date announced by the mayor was welcome, but also puts the onus on his organization to be fully staffed and prepared for the big day.
“It means we can really target our activities from now until that date; which we couldn’t really do before,” said Mogdan. “We can tell our members exactly what is going to be happening and we can direct them to the website, give them program information, and get everyone really excited.”
Mogdan confirmed the YMCA had hired about 175 of the 225 employees required to staff the new facility. The YMCA hasn’t been offering programming at its former downtown location since the beginning of April, confirmed Mogdan — so staff were getting geared up and excited about the upcoming opening date at the Cor Van Raay location.
Fines sought in fisheries case
The Brooks Motocross Club and a member of its executive have each been found guilty of contravening the Fisheries Act and Species at Risk Act, and face thousands of dollars in fines.
In his decision given Dec. 17, 2018, Judge Jerry LeGrandeur said the club and David Allen French contravened the acts by allowing motocross bikes to race through streams containing sensitive fish habitat, killing a number of bull trout, as well as west slope cutthroat trout, which are designated a threatened species.
“It is clear that, but for the race and the failure of Brooks Motocross Club to prevent or adequately mitigate the effects of the stream crossings, both species of fish died,” LeGrandeur said in his decision.
During a sentencing hearing Tuesday in Lethbridge provincial court, the Crown recommended fining the club a total of $70,000 — $35,000 under each act — and fining French $20,000 under each act. Defence for French suggested a range of $5,000 to $10,000 for each count, while defence for the club recommended the minimum fine under the Fisheries Act of $25,000 and $5,000 under SARA.
Cop case may go to trial
The case against a Fort Macleod RCMP officer accused of striking a Granum resident last year may be heading for trial.
While it appeared last month the matter might be resolved without a trial, a judge was told Wednesday in Fort Macleod provincial court that a two-day trial will likely need to be scheduled.
The accused, Troy William Heystek, who was not required to attend court Wednesday, is charged with a single count of assault stemming from an incident April 13, 2018 in the Village of Granum north of Fort Macleod.
RCMP reported an officer responded to a 911 call made from a home in the small community. After confirming the welfare of the resident of the home, the officer and the resident had a verbal exchange that escalated into a physical confrontation, in which the officer allegedly pushed and punched the resident.
The Crowsnest Pass RCMP detachment investigated the allegations and subsequently charged the officer. Heystek has been re-assigned to an administrative role pending the outcome of his case, and the matter is set to return to court April 24.
Crown prosecutor Michael Fox told the judge Wednesday a pre-trial conference will be held in the meantime, during which dates for the trial will be scheduled. The dates may be confirmed at Heystek’s court hearing later this month.
New Legacy phase starts
City of Lethbridge Parks manager David Ellis says Legacy Park users may have to put up with some short-term traffic pain for long-term gain as work has begun on a second parking lot Monday morning.
“Obviously construction always closes off an area,” explained Ellis, “and we’ll have to fence around the construction site. And there will be a little bit of equipment in the existing parking lot for a little bit, and there will be some truck traffic coming in and out. But the disruption to park users should be really minimal.”
The work is expected to go until June, and is a necessary first step before moving on to the final phase of construction for the park, said Ellis.
“It would be nice to be wrapping up, but we are just ramping up for the next round of construction,” Ellis stated. “This year, we’ll finish the parking lot in June. Later on in the summer, we’re going to be doing a community pavilion and picnic shelter construction. Later on this year, we’ll be getting going on the spray park. Next year we’ll probably be finishing up some of the big adventure playground construction, and that will be it.”
The University of Lethbridge joined Volunteer Lethbridge to thank the students, staff and alumni who volunteered their time, not only to ensure the success of many U of L events and programs, but also to help organizations in the broader community, with a flag-raising ceremony to mark the start of National Volunteer Week.
The U of L has been partnering with Volunteer Lethbridge since 2003 to encourage volunteerism on campus with UVolunteer, which employs a co-operative education student each year to inform students and engage them with volunteer opportunities, through the School of Liberal Education.
“We have always valued being actively involved in the community at all levels, whether that is through volunteering or in other ways,” says Shelly Wismath, dean of the School of Liberal Education. “We think that volunteering is important and part of the goal of the university is to envision the kind of society we want to live in and then make it happen and volunteering is one of the ways we can do that.”