Local officials are congratulating Premier-elect Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party for their strong election win last Tuesday night, and are conveying their thanks to defeated MLA Maria Fitzpatrick for her staunch advocacy in Edmonton these past four years.
“I wanted to specifically thank Maria Fitzpatrick,” said Deputy Mayor Ryan Parker, speaking on behalf of council with Mayor Chris Spearman out of town. “She was defeated yesterday, but she did an excellent job representing her constituency — but also the citizens of Lethbridge collectively as a whole. She will be missed. But congratulations to Nathan Neudorf. I know he will do a good job working with the City of Lethbridge as a corporation and as a council in addressing some of the concerns, but also the opportunities, for our community.”
Lethbridge College president and CEO Paula Burns also congratulated Neudorf on his big win in Lethbridge-East.
“I think within Lethbridge we have strong champions elected for Lethbridge as a city and for Lethbridge College,” said Burns. “We look forward to working with Nathan Neudorf in a new capacity. He has been a friend of the college from before. We also really want to thank Maria Fitzpatrick, too, for the support she brought to Lethbridge and the college, and we look forward to continuing to work with Shannon Phillips.”
While congratulations were the first order of business, Burns and Parker said they hoped a new Kenney government would continue to provide sustainable funding for the college and the city.
Neudorf defeats Fitzpatrick
It was expected to be a narrow victory. But Nathan Neudorf pulled ahead of incumbent MLA Maria Fitzpatrick on Tuesday to pick up another southern Alberta seat for the United Conservative Party.
A first-time candidate, nominated just weeks before the election was called, Neudorf took an early lead as results trickled in and built momentum through the evening.
By the time premier-elect Jason Kenney was presenting his televised victory speech in Calgary, Neudorf was more than 1,600 votes ahead of incumbent MLA Maria Fitzpatrick with a handful of polls yet to be reported.
“I’m very excited, very relieved, very grateful,” he told supporters gathered in a local restaurant. “You can see the support, the teamwork that came and brought this together.”
Even though team members had knocked on 14,500 doors by the end of the campaign, Neudorf says he knew there were a lot of undecided voters in the final days.
Shoreline pollution an issue
While Lethbridge residents seem to be getting the message about the importance of coulee cleanup when it comes to litter and wind-blown debris, there is more work to do on the issues of shoreline litter, dog scat and especially cigarette butts.
So says Helen Schuler resource development co-ordinator Curtis Goodman, who spoke to the Community Issues Committee about these problems at city hall last week.
“When we look at cigarette butts in particular, we know they pose a serious hazard pollution-wise to wildlife,” explained Goodman.
“When we look at the research done by the Vancouver Aquarium on bird autopsies and fish autopsies for instance, they are starting to find every single specimen they are autopsying has some cigarette butt contamination in their digestive tracts. That is serious because we know cigarettes contain a whole range of harmful chemicals. And when that leaches into our environment it has longstanding detrimental impact.”
Goodman said a staggering 43 per cent of shoreline debris found along the Oldman River in Lethbridge is cigarette butts.
“That is something that is literally at the tip of the fingers, and can be stopped in an instant simply by packing out your butts,” explained Goodman. “Beyond the environmental impacts to our river valley, the fire hazard posed by a butt which is flicked out of a moving vehicle can instantly wipe out many acres through grassfire.
“It is something we want to avoid when we live in an arid, grassland environment. Grassfires are a serious threat to everybody. It is something we need to take seriously. It is not only a health hazard, it’s a safety issue.”
Goodman felt it might be time for city council to consider taking drastic action to curtail the problem, and drive the message home for local smokers not to pollute in this way. He suggested council might consider some form of municipal cigarette levy to fund local cleanup efforts.
Change may be slow
Despite Tuesday’s election results, Lethbridge residents might not see a lot of change.
Planned infrastructure projects are expected to proceed, explains political scientist Faron Ellis, and the new United Conservative government will continue to run deficit budgets.
Some small businesses may benefit from a reduction in wages paid to younger employees, he says.
But efforts to stimulate the oil industry could have only indirect impacts on the city’s economy, Ellis adds, because our major industries focus on agri-food processing.
In a post-election analysis, he said a politically decisive result was important for Albertans, particularly after a contentious campaign.
“It was one of the most acrimonious campaigns we’ve seen in 30 or 40 years,” said Ellis, research chair at Lethbridge College.
It’s fortunate that Lethbridge is represented in the UCP caucus, he added — even if it’s not by a cabinet minister.
“Typically you would expect a city the size of Lethbridge to have a cabinet minister,” he observed.
“It might be a little much to expect that Mr. (Nathan) Neudorf would go straight into cabinet,” but premier-elect Jason Kenney might name the new Lethbridge East MLA to some kind of “junior portfolio” as a starting point.
With one MLA in government and the other in opposition, he said Lethbridge is in a familiar situation. But it was usually Lethbridge East voters who sent an opposition MLA — Liberals Ken Nicol and then Bridget Pastoor — to the legislature.
On issues important to Lethbridge, said Ellis, legislators from both parties have usually worked co-operatively.
“If Nathan Neudorf goes to bat for purposes in Lethbridge, you’re not going to get opposition from across town.”
During the campaign, Ellis said, there were indications that a UCP government would honour commitments made to Lethbridge voters, including support for a performing arts centre as well as much-needed schools and other infrastructure.
“I’m not sure how firm that commitment was,” he allowed.
New lease for tennis club
The Lethbridge Tennis Club was born in 1887 — the oldest in Alberta.
And now it’s set for another decade of energetic activity near Henderson Lake. City council has approved a new 10-year lease on the city-owned court built in 1972, running until the end of 2028.
The fee will be a token $25 per year, plus an amount based on how much power is used when the court is lighted in the evenings.
Foodgrains project starts
The Coaldale-Lethbridge Community Growing Project 2019 seeding party to support the Canadian Foodgrains Bank went off without a hitch on Tuesday.
“It went well,” confirmed Coaldale-Lethbridge project organizing committee chair Edgar Dueck. “Field conditions are actually looking pretty good right now, but it would never hurt to have 10 more millimetres of rain.”
The group planted 115 acres of barley this year which will be sold off at the Mennonite Central Committee CC Relief Sale and Auction in Coaldale on June 1.
“We have been planting barley for years because we have local feedlot owners who will buy it,” said Dueck. “Because the feedlot owners know the benefit of the Foodgrains Bank Project, they generally will pay a premium for the price of the barley. We sell the grain first and then the straw.
“We have done pretty well that way over the years.”
CBS revises hours
Canadian Blood Services is committed to continuously improve their services and are making blood donation even more convenient for people to give back, with the expansion of their donor centre hours.
“We have revised our hours to match the preferred donation times of Lethbridge donors,” says Jennifer Gretzan-Melnichuk, associate director. “These changes will also help us collect blood more consistently and better meet the ongoing need of hospital patients.”
Starting on May 1, the Lethbridge Canadian Blood Services donor centre will be open Tuesday and Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Residents who will be taking advantage of the later hours are advised that after 6:30 p.m. access to the Melcor Centre building is limited to one entrance door, located on the southeast entrance on the corner of 5 Avenue and 4 Street South. To book your appointment with the new hours of the donor clinic, visit blood.ca.
Kenney captured attention
When you define the ballot question, Albertans will decide.
And that, says political scientist Geoffrey Hale, is exactly what Jason Kenney did.
With his repeated focus on jobs, the economy and the pipeline, the United Conservative leader captured the attention of many Albertans — who went out and voted.
For Premier Rachel Notley, that created a formidable challenge.
“She did her best to destroy his reputation, and it certainly worked in Edmonton,” says Hale, a member of the political science faculty at the University of Lethbridge.
But the NDP also had to win more seats in Calgary to hold onto control, and Notley spent many days campaigning with candidates there.
“She had to persuade Calgarians to re-elect her government, and Calgarians were not buying it.”
Many people on Calgary are feeling hurt by the energy industry’s downturn, “and they wanted a change.”
In the process, he points out, many voters abandoned the Alberta Liberals. Their leader, David Khan finished third in his riding.
“The Liberals in Alberta are back where they were in the 1980s,” with few prospects for an early comeback.
And Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel failed to win election in Edmonton, putting Alberta into a two-party system after decades of largely one-party rule.
For Faron Ellis, political science instructor at Lethbridge College, the cliff-hanging Lethbridge West contest came as no surprise.
“We knew it would be close in both ridings,” with each of the front-running parties projected for one Lethbridge seat.
Blue bins headed to homes
Residents across Lethbridge as of today will be receiving their new blue bin curbside recycling containers, to help reduce the amount of recyclable items from the landfill.
Last Monday morning, crews started to roll out the bins to properties on the northside and will continue to distribute them up until May 10. Each bin is scanned with a code that designates it to a property, so if the bin is lost it can be relocated using the scanning barcode. There is also a clear label for people to write their home address on the side of the bin. An information pamphlet taped to the top of the lid has all of the information about what recyclable items can go in the bins and which cannot.
“Starting today, April 15 until May 10, we are going to be delivering blue carts to every home in the city of Lethbridge. We are starting in the northside and then the southside, and finally the westside,” says Mayor Chris Spearman. “It is important people read the information that is taped to the top of the lid, that tells you what items go in the bin and what items don’t. Also, we have a website where people can go to learn about what to put in their carts as well.”
Hard plastics such as yogurt containers, jars, buckets, laundry soap jugs and shampoo bottles are accepted in the bins when they are rinsed out. Paper and cardboard such as newspapers, magazines, shoe boxes and egg cartons are allowed within the bins. Metal cans, foils and beverage containers are also accepted, with the condition they are rinsed out.
Items that are not allowed in the bins include glass, plastic bags, rope, bubble wrap, bagged recyclables, paper drinking cups, mixed packaging products, styrofoam, construction material, electronics, houseware products and hazardous waste materials.
Dogs help students
As Lethbridge College students push through the endless hours of studying and working to complete their projects for the end of the semester, the college is finding ways to help them release their anxiety to help them through exam week.
Resources such as longer office hours with instructors and the help offered in the library or Learning Café can help students work on their academic skills to help them through their final week. But the college also offers programs to help them relieve stress in different ways including the Lethbridge College Students’ Association Stress Smash, to help them physically take out their stress on a vehicle last week, or the calming and relaxing approach with Doggy De-Stress this week.
“We are doing doggy de-stress, it is an initiative which we do every time we have exams and it is four days of dogs, dogs, dogs,” says Michael Bartz, student experience specialist with Lethbridge College.
“Another institution was doing it and we decided to pick up on that, and a lot of people like dogs. It is a good way for students to de-stress during final exams whether you miss your dog from home or just really like dogs, it is a fun thing on campus.”
Throughout exam week, faculty volunteer dogs spend their day in a room with stressed-out college students to help them take their mind off the tasks ahead. Dogs are seen as the perfect medicine to help students get through stressful times, and with students away from their family dogs, they can snuggle and play with some puppy energy to lift their spirits to get them through to the end.