The Lethbridge Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary Aug. 17, with both branches of the library commemorating the milestone.
On Aug. 14, 1919, the Lethbridge Public Library opened its doors to spread the love of literacy, education and community. Throughout the years, the library has not only grown into multiple buildings, but has expanded to give community members access to many different resources.
“Celebrating 100 years in the community is an incredibly important milestone for the Lethbridge Public Library,” says Terra Plato, Lethbridge Public Library CEO. “Public libraries are the key to healthy communities, as we ensure that everyone has equitable access to learning and leisure.”
Saturday afternoon, hundreds visited both branches of the library in Lethbridge to take part in the many different activities including a number of outdoor super-sized games, pop-up adventure play, and a quiet play space.
People were entertained by live performers such as Cirque Sensation, Lethbridge Swing Dance Club, Buskers Association of Lethbridge, Lion Dancers, and dozens of other entertainers.
Council rejects SCS motions
Lethbridge City Council rejected Coun. Blaine Hyggen’s motion to ask the province to prevent ARCHES from allowing needles to leave the supervised consumption site and to suspend funding to the SCS pending a provincial review.
The motion, co-sponsored by Hyggen, Coun. Ryan Parker and Coun. Joe Mauro, was defeated by a vote of 6-3 following a strenuous debate in a packed council chambers Aug. 19, with supporters and those opposed to the SCS present in the gallery and also in the overflow space in the city hall foyer.
Extra security and police officers were on hand to ensure order as the debate got underway, with Hyggen presenting the motion and asking for questions.
Hyggen and Mayor Chris Spearman clashed over what the mayor called Hyggen’s false information and unsourced references in his comments to introduce the motion, and in earlier comments Hyggen had made to the media leading up to the debate on Monday. Coun. Rob Miyashiro asked the co-sponsors of the motion, “Did you want our most vulnerable people in the city to die?” He asserted that is what would happen if the province eventually closed the SCS.
This drew a withering rebuke from Mauro who said, “Of course, no one here in this room wants anyone to die.”
SCS rallies face off
Supporters of the supervised consumption site faced off with those wishing to shut it down in front of city hall Monday, Aug. 19.
Among the chants, whistles, shouts and car horns of those passing by on Stafford Drive a basic consensus seemed to emerge among the 700 or so assembled protesters on both sides: Lethbridge’s current drug strategy is not working.
“There is a problem in Lethbridge, and to be noted as number one in all the world (for SCS use) is pretty sad,” said anti-SCS protester Lyda Forbes, who echoed the thoughts of many present. “Our money isn’t spent wisely. I don’t understand how they get the money to buy the drugs to get injections. There is two sides to every story, but there is local businesses that have lost a lot of business. It is just sad we have to get to this point. We need to solve it — either to get a new mayor or somebody who can fix this problem.”
AUPE continues opposition
Dozens of Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) members and supporters rallied in front of St. Michael’s Health Care Centre Monday afternoon for an information picket about Bill 9 and the attacks they say it has on their contracts, wages and employee rights.
As rallies across the province continue to happen, union members in Lethbridge protested Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, which delays wage arbitration for AUPE members and many more working Albertans. The controversial bill defers wage arbitration for 180,000 nurses, government workers and teachers until Oct. 31.
Protesters said they hope Alberta’s UCP government will value and respect public-sector workers.
“Today we are holding an information picket about Bill 9 and the members are out here from different unions, AUPE mostly, and we are here to protest Bill 9 and the delay of the negotiations in wage arbitrations,” said Susan Slade, vice-president of AUPE. “We hope that the UCP realize that public-sector workers are valuable and that they deserve to have respect and their contracts should be abided by and not just arbitrarily taken away when they feel like they want to do that.”
Galt Gardens was bouncing with bass and electronic sounds Aug. 17, as the Lethbridge Electronic Music Festival returned for its eighth year.
Family, friends, community members and visitors to the city came together to experience the family friendly music festival with three stages featuring more than 30 artists. Organizers say they have tried to create a positive atmosphere around LEMF, as some festivals have negative stigmas attached to them.
“We want to focus on bringing positivity to the rave scene. There is often a lot of negativity out there and we just want to showcase the music that we love and the lifestyle that we live to our community so they can experience it through their eyes,” said Daysha Salamon, event organizer. “We try to promote the family friendly aspect of it, too, having something that parents can come to with their kids and seeing all the kids dance is awesome.”
Over the last eight years, LEMF has grown from a small group of ravers to opening their space to the community to come in and understand and enjoy the raver lifestyle. Starting with a couple stages and featuring local DJs has turned into three stages, festival activities and an artisan market, along with being able to bring in headlining acts from around the world.
“It has grown exponentially,” said Salamon. “The first year there were two stages and maybe 500 people came out to it, but it has grown crazily and we hit around 4,000 last year. The fact that we can bring headliners over from the U.K. and New Zealand is pretty phenomenal for us and it is all dependent on grants and sponsorship.”
Farm Day educational
For urban communities, many people don’t put too much effort into thinking about, or learning about, where the food on the table comes from.
Farming Smarter Lethbridge hosted its annual Open Farm Day on Aug. 17 to educate the non-farming community about the process to make food ready for consumption.
Families visited farmland just outside of the city and met with industry professionals, 4H leaders and farm technology experts to see how farming has improved, as well as receiving hands-on experience to learn about the different processes.
“We are hosting an Open Farm Day event, which is in conjunction with a provincial initiative, Open Farm Days,” said Jamie Puchinger, assistant manager of Farming Smarter. “It is a way to get people that have nothing to do with agriculture out to a farm, and Farming Smarter is close to Lethbridge and we have a lot of industry partners and other associates that we work closely with so we can bring everybody all together here to the farm for one day to showcase a whole bunch of different aspects of farming today.”
Food is an important part of everyone’s life and Farming Smarter wants to educate people on the process, so they provided a variety of avenues of the agriculture business for people to explore through from the Ask A Farmer Booth, local cooking and tasting demonstrations, and wagon rides through the research fields.
Galt hosting beer tasting
The Galt Museum and Archives is gearing up to present this year’s Galt Beer Tasting Soirée on Sept. 6, with tickets on sale now.
The Galt Beer Tasting Soirée is an annual fundraiser for the Galt Museum and will feature some of the best craft and microbrews available in southern Alberta.
“Our annual Beer Tasting Soirée has become a stable and signature event at the Galt over the more than 15 years we have been holding it,” says Chris Roedler, the Galt’s resource development and volunteer co-ordinator.
“We are very excited to be working with Bridge City Chrysler this year to put on this event, and the many breweries and distributors who are returning, as well as a number of first-time attendees.
This year’s beer tasting is a must-attend event for craft and microbrew beer fans.”
Transit terminal opens
After more than a year and a half of design and construction, Lethbridge’s new $19.91-million Regional Park ‘n’ Ride Transit Terminal is set to be operational today, Aug. 28.
With construction nearly complete and road work in the final stages, the facility, located at 705 5 Ave. S., will bring Lethbridge Transit, Red Arrow and the Highway 3 Connector into one terminal.
“We’re going to have lots of buses here on the 28th,” said Scott Grieco, Transit Operations manager for the City of Lethbridge, during a media event at the site the morning of Aug. 21. “We’re excited to have one safe, convenient and accessible location for our transit riders.”
For City transit users, this opening will relocate the current downtown Lethbridge Transit hub on 4 Avenue South. Eight bus stops in the downtown area will be decommissioned with the majority being funnelled through the new terminal.
Two on-street bus stops will remain including 4 Avenue between 6 and 7 Street South and on 6 Street between 4 and 5 Avenue South. Signage will also be posted at these locations to inform riders of the change.
Hours and service will be the same, although there will be minor route changes.
Grieco says the new terminal will provide residents with a comfortable and safe location to access City transit service. It is protected from the weather and has washroom facilities.
“For our transit riders, it’s really exciting because now you have one safe location to make your transfers to other buses,” he said. “At all times during operation, essentially from 6 a.m. to midnight, there will be security on site. That adds a level of safety for our customers.”
On the upper levels of the terminal, there is a parkade with more than 290 new stalls.
Ag minister here
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen visited Lethbridge last Wednesday to take part in his 21st Farm Freedom and Safety Act consultation session of the summer. About 30 local agriculture representatives and farmers took park in the discussion to generate ideas about what should be incorporated in the act, which should be introduced to replace Bill 6 in this fall’s sitting of the legislature.
Dreeshen admitted likely what will come out of this series of consultations would be quite similar to what the UCP has already proposed during the last election campaign — with farmers being required to carry insurance which would cover their employees, but having a choice between WCB coverage and private insurance options.
“We did campaign on certain things,” he said, “like having a choice in insurance or having three-farm-employee (OHS) exemption, but that didn’t come from a vacuum. It came from consulting with farmers. We are now going out and consulting farmers, and the fact some of the same themes are reoccurring isn’t a surprise.”
Drug issues addressed
Lethbridge City Council has passed two new measures which it hopes will address some of the public’s ongoing concerns with the current drug crisis.
During Monday’s public meeting, Mayor Chris Spearman sponsored two motions — one which was to draft a letter on behalf of the City to ask the province to establish a permanent SCAN (Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods) office in Lethbridge to help deal with local drug houses. The other motion asked that the city manager and his staff explore the possibility of setting up an Illicit Drug Task Force in Lethbridge to address specific issues of public concern related to the drug crisis.
According to a release from the City, “the task force would look to similar models which have been successful in negating crime and related issues in cities such as Vancouver and Winnipeg. The focused group would also look to the four pillars of addressing addiction — prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement — to guide their solutions-based approach.”
SCAN is the law enforcement arm empowered by the province to help work around property rights and tenancy laws to close down existing drug houses.
College names new deans
Lethbridge College is welcoming three new leaders of its academic centres for the 2019-20 academic year.
Kevin Smith will be joining the college as the new Dean of the Centre for Applied Arts and Sciences, Terry Kowalchuk is the new Dean of the Centre for Technology, Environment and Design, and Sheldon Anderson will begin his first year as the Dean of the Centre for Trades after taking over the position in January.
Smith is new to the college, having most recently taught at the University of Northern British Columbia. Anderson and Kowalchuk are both long-time Lethbridge College employees who have served in a variety of roles.
“These appointments will build on and enrich the academic culture that we have cultivated at Lethbridge College,” says Samantha Lenci, provost and vice president Academic, in a release. “Each of our new deans bring a valuable combination of industry and academic experience that allow them to connect with faculty, fight for students and lead the college into the future. They are energetic, innovative and excited to be a part of what happens next.”
Tobacco smuggler sentenced
A Calgary man caught trying to smuggle nearly 900 kilograms of tobacco into Alberta last year has been fined and placed under house arrest.
Haseeb Naib, who was driving a semi truck and trailer, arrived at the Coutts border crossing Dec. 28. When he was asked by a customs officer if he had any tobacco products, he lied and said no. The suspicious officer referred Naib for a secondary inspection, during which officers found in Naib’s trailer two pallets, on which about 886 kilograms of tobacco were hidden under black plastic.
Naib pleaded guilty Aug. 22 in Lethbridge provincial court to single counts of failing to declare the tobacco, and selling or being in possession to sell tobacco.
Federal Crown prosecutor Kent Brown told court customs officers examined Naib’s cellphone and found text messages indicating he was planning to sell the tobacco in and around Calgary. They also found bank information indicating Naib had forwarded a large sum of money to an address in Texas for the tobacco.
The 28-year-old truck driver was fined $25,000 — the maximum under the Customs Act is $50,000 — and given a one-year conditional sentence. During the first six months of his sentence, Naib will be under house arrest and prohibited from leaving his home except to work and for other specific needs, such as shopping, medical appointments and religious services. During the remaining six months he must abide by a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., with the same exceptions.
Ammonia leak in Claresholm
Claresholm residents were put on edge Aug. 22 afternoon after a State of Local Emergency was declared for the community following a small ammonia leak at El Molino Foods Ltd. at #1 Alberta Road.
According to a release by the Town, the 911 call came in at 12:45 p.m. that a local business had an ammonia leak. Upon attending the scene, the Claresholm Fire Department determined a hazardous materials team was needed to control the leak. Ammonia is extremely irritating to the eyes and skin, and can cause respiratory distress at higher concentrations. This requires emergency responders to wear special protective equipment to deal with.
The State of Local Emergency declaration went into effect just after 2 p.m., with residents being told they should be prepared to evacuate if required.
Employees of the facility were evacuated as soon as the leak was discovered, and a 400-metre isolation zone was set up around El Molino Foods as a precaution, the Town stated.
LC, potato growers partnering
Lethbridge College announced on Thursday it will be partnering with local potato growers to study irrigation and watering methods in the region.
The four-year research project is a partnership between Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Potato Growers of Alberta. It is made possible through a grant from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
The $397,595 grant allows for the study of five different potato fields throughout southern Alberta. The watering practices of two producers near Vauxhall, as well as farms near Bow Island, Chin and Taber, are being monitored. The diversity of fields allows researchers to study a variety of different soil types and topographies, which will give a holistic look at how moisture reacts with and affects potato crops. The research team will record how producers use their existing irrigation and available water sources and the outcome it has on crops in different parts of their fields.