Lethbridge Accountability Survey

Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitilization Zone Question:
What is your position on Revitalization of downtown Lethbridge?

I am a strong supporter of a vibrant and diverse downtown. During this term, I worked with various elements of the Heart of Our City committee, the DT BRZ, entrepreneurs and residents to address some of the issues, concerns and opportunities facing the core of our city. While I believe that the private sector has "revitalized" much of the area, the City must continue to partner with the downtown community to ensure its long-term success. For example, in support of revitalization, I voted for the first phase of street-scaping (3rd Avenue), to develop a new and more interactive experience in the downtown core. The entire street-scaping plan is intended to attract more people downtown, thus creating more social, recreational and economic opportunities for our community. /p>

Greensence/SAGE/KLEW question 1:
Human activities are contributing to global warming and climate change. Please choose from:
Agree
Disagree
It's complicated

Agree
Aside from the scientific data that also identifies natural changes in our global climate, it is understandable that a rapid growth in global population (since the end of World War II and increasing by 1 billion people every 12-14 years since the mid 1970s) will have an impact on our climate. Our actions - past and present - do have consequences. For example, we know that the automobile adds to the environmental condition of our growing urban centres (smog, heating, pollution, et cetera). With over 1.01 billion worldwide, urban environmental conditions will become more prevalent. While many Western / Northern manufacturers are making great strides in improving their environmental footprint, not all take this responsibility seriously. Additionally, some emerging economies have loose or non-existant environmental regulations are no different than our own activities were in most of the 20th Century; this too adds to the global condition. Yes - human activity contributes to global warming.

Greensence/SAGE/KLEW question 2:
The Environment Lethbridge Council have requested a seed grant of $120,000/year from City Council. Would you support the City providing seed money for the Environment Lethbridge Council? Please choose:
Agree
Disagree
It's complicated

It's complicated
City Council often enters into a Fee for Service agreement with community agencies. Such an agreement could be struck between the City and Environment Lethbridge, based on specific objectives of the City (things we don't do well or shouldn't do), with realistic and measurable outcomes. How Environment Lethbridge structures itself, what mandate it undertakes, and what services it can provide to residents will certainly determine the level of commitment from City Council.

Greensence/SAGE/KLEW question 3:
Do you support expanding the City's waste management plan to include curbside recycling? Please choose
Agree
Disagree
It's complicated

Agree
Yes. It has to be undertaken in a responsible and sustainable manner, looking at the best options for service delivery and a return on investment. It must also include an education component (perhaps a role for Environment Lethbridge) to help us all understand the process, the goals and the value of recycling.

Greensence/SAGE/KLEW question 4:
Some cities, like Medicine Hat offer incentives to utility consumers to improve their homes and reduce utility use. Are you in favour of implementing a similar incentive program in Lethbridge to encourage residents, businesses, and the City itself to reduce their carbon footprint? Please choose:
Yes
No

Yes
There are a number of federal and provincial programs available to residents and businesses that would help reduce utility use. For example, Lethbridge residents can now access the Enmax "Generate Choice" home solar program (still with some red tape ... but we're working on that!!). One of the goals of the program is to lower electricity demand, which lowers the necessity for production, which lowers emissions from coal-fired generators. Incentive programs can work as long as they are fair to all involved and do not burden the taxpayer (i.e. funded from utility funds instead of taxation).

Greensence/SAGE/KLEW question 5:
In 2012, Lethbridge City Council adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in drilling for oil and gas within municipal limits. Would you actively seek to enforce this resolution? Please choose:
Full Ban
Non biding resolution
No position
Support fracking

Non Binding Resolution
The City of Lethbridge has absolutely no say into whether or not drilling occurs within our border. In fact, no urban or rural municipal council in Alberta gets to vote, either for or against, oil and gas exploration within their municipal boundary. The decision to drill in urban centres is purely the jurisdiction of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the Government of Alberta. As such, we can object to proposed wells, but unless the provincial government respects our role as representatives of local citizens, there is no legislative role for us to play. However, if we cannot stop drilling within our boundary, then our objective should be to create a workable plan for the AER to use as the guide for drilling companies. Perhaps this is a way to create respect for residents and our community. If I am re-elected, I will continue to push for municipal participation in the process of awarding drilling permits within urban settings. I will recommend additional actions to the next Council, such as a resolution to the Alberta Urban Municipality Association calling for municipalities to have intervention status in these decisions. For me, this is not just about drilling in the City, it’s also about respecting local democracy and local government.

Lethbridge & District Labour Council question 1:
What is your position on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) and the function they serve in the future growth of the City of Lethbridge? Please choose:
Oppose P3s
No opinion
Support P3s

Support P3s
When it comes to capital projects, Public-Private Partnerships certainly can play a prominent role, from providing project expertise, to an infusion of additional funds, to creating unique facilities or infrastructure that can benefit both our community and the private sector.

Lethbridge & District Labour Council question 2:
Is the contracting out of public services necessary to the operations of the City of Lethbridge? Please choose:
Yes
No
Unsure

Yes
You are missing an "it depends" button here. Obviously, some services cannot be contracted out, due to the nature of their "business". However, where it is possible to contract out public services, a strong caveat must be included: contracting out should only occur as long as an acceptable service level (measurable and with enforceable conditions) is delivered to our residents and the contract does not end up costing the taxpayer more than the City can provide for the same service. If the private sector is providing a living wage to its employees and is able to provide the same level of service at a lower cost than the City can perform the same service, then - at a minimum - we ought to investigate service delivery in that area.

Lethbridge & District Labour Council question 3:
Buy-local or Made-in-Canada purchasing policies should be supported even if they result in higher costs. Please choose:
Strongly disagree
Somewhat disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat agree
Strongly agree

Neither agree nor disagree
While City Council must be the responsible steward of the tax-payer's dollar and should always consider the "low bid" (all qualifications being equal, of course), we are often limited in our choice of "buy-local" given provincial and federal laws, such as the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, the North America Free Trade Agreement and the (pending) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Canada and the EU). Certain contract tenders bring the NWPTA - BC, AB, SK - into effect and we then become subject to the terms of the trade agreement regardless of where the bidder lives. For example, the atrium is currently being demolished by the "low bid" - a company out of BC's lower mainland! Obviously, it would be wonderful if we could consider a "local" enterprise if s/he is within a certain percentage of the low bid, but the terms of these trade agreements make that impossible. There is a "flip side" to this, though: our local companies can also bid on work in other jurisdictions, providing them with greater business opportunities.

Lethbridge & District Labour Council question 4:
Closure of Federal Government service offices and reductions in Provincial funding to post-secondary education have implications to the community of Lethbridge in terms of service loss and job loss. What is your position on these closures and reductions and, as a municipal leader, what should the City’s role be when the decisions of other levels of government affect citizens of Lethbridge?

When the provincial government announced major programming and staffing cuts to our two post secondary institutions, I encouraged council to send a letter to the Premier, identifying how the cuts will impact Lethbridge and how they will adversely affect our community. As Members of City Council, it is our role to advocate for our residents when the decisions of other orders of government affect lives and livelihood in our community.

Lethbridge & District Labour Council question 5:
Most of our public services and facilities have a user fee but the City subsidizes the cost of the facility or service. What is your position on the subsidization of public services and facilities? Please choose from: Users should not pay at all so that everyone can access the service.
Small user fees should be charged but I would consider waiving them for low income people, students, and seniors.
A user fee should be charged to all users.
The City should not be subsidizing someone’s hobbies or recreation.

A user fee should be charged to all users.
Establishing user fees for City facilities and services certainly is the most equitable approach towards some cost recovery for our goods and services. Such fees should be included in the business case submitted to Council before the good or service is approved or modified. However, City Council should remain open-minded to considering reduced user fees for qualifying residents.

Lethbridge & District Labour Council question 6:
The City of Lethbridge should endorse an expanded Canada Pension Plan strategy and implement a Living Wage policy.Please choose from:
Strongly disagree.
Somewhat disagree
Neither agree nor disagree
Somewhat agree
Strongly agree

Neither agree nor disagree
You have two policies here (expanded CPP and Living Wage) which require different considerations. 1) expanded CPP strategy: I agree that the federal government should be undertaking a national retirement strategy and that they should examine the current CPP for its sustainability and long-term applicability, especially for those individuals who depend on this Plan (unlike many in my generation who do not expect it to to receive any CPP benefits). I know that some provincial governments are pushing the federal government to act, so - as Councillors - we could call upon the Alberta Urban Municipality Association to support provincial efforts. Also on the issue of pensions, the City of Lethbridge ought to begin establishing new City employees in a Defined Contribution Pension Plan instead of the traditional Defined Benefit Pension Plan. 2) Living Wage: There is no doubt that a Living Wage policy would help families in our community who struggle to cover basic living expenses. I am certainly open to investigating the impact that a Living Wage policy would have upon the corporation and our community. Such an investigation would undoubtedly start with a full review of the wages and salaries paid to City staff, comparing those wages to comparable private sector occupations (where applicable), average income in our community and the cost of living within Lethbridge.

Play Local question 1:
Which of these approaches do you favour and explain why you favour this approach in the comment section.Please select:
Building infrastructure and facilities to meet current needs in order to keep taxes low
Investing additional funds to accommodate future growth

Investing additional funds to accommodate future growth
Before I invest "additional" funds, I would prefer that we review current practices and processes to ensure that we aren't missing opportunities to invest current funds in a wiser manner. Ultimately, though, it is the role of City Council to be thinking long term and to consider the challenges and opportunities that future growth entails.

Play Local question 2:
These three projects may come up in the next community improvement plan process:

  • Performing Arts Centre
  • Developing the Exhibition Park
  • Completion of the final phase of the Crossings Ice Complex.
  • If you could only fund one of these projects which would you choose? Please explain your choice in the comment section.

No answer
"Choose one?" It is the concept of "choose one" that helps answer the last question on this page. The "choose one" option - most often placed in front of City Council - encourages our "pod" development within the city, building facilities in areas to only meet singular, often 'immediate' needs. It also pits groups against each other: sports vs. arts; recreation vs. heritage, et cetera. How can we grow as a community when we are always competing for a single project? And how do other communities grow in multiple directions successfully? Can we not explore the possibilities behind "choose all that apply?" For example, has anyone considered putting a performance theatre into the Exhibition Park proposal? Think about the synergies that exist between our performing arts needs and the Exhibition's proposal (not to mention a location overlooking Henderson Lake, ample parking, food services, savings in construction costs that can go towards greater comfort and acoustics, etc). Has no one really considered partnering with local developers to create a leisure complex with condos, offices or retail establishments in the facility, all of which would generate additional revenue for the City, maybe even covering the operating costs of the facility? In my opinion, it is this continued "choose one" approach that has held us back and not permitted us to achieve greater things. Yes - it's a cliché but we really do need to 'think outside the box' and challenge ourselves to find creative approaches to funding the needs of this community (government and private partnerships, fund raising, sponsorships, et cetera). The Corporation itself can be better at business plan development and project management to achieve these aims. Let's be creative in how we grow our community, and let's do it together.

Play Local question 3:
During the last phase of the 2013 CIP, only the aquatic portion of the leisure centre was approved. What would be your commitment to having the final phase (the fieldhouse portion of the centre) completed?

During the Capital Improvement Program debates, I advocated for a full build of the leisure complex. The legacy of "build for now" or "partial build" remains evident at the Nicholas Sheran complex and within the Enmax renovation. My advocacy was based on shared costs (city, provincial, federal and, especially, private investments), creative approaches (incorporate condos, offices, etc) and the positive success and experiences of other communities (Calgary and Regina) who managed to plan and build multiple facilities. I am committed to finding options to complete the complex in a timely, sustainable manner.

Play Local question 4:
The Recreation and Culture Master Plan report commissioned by the City of Lethbridge found that Lethbridge has inadequate recreation facilities. Why do you think that this situation developed and what would you do to rectify this?

I believe that this situation occurs because we isolate our community into "sports" or "arts" or "culture" or "seniors" or "youth" or ... Frankly stated, it's time we examine the direction of this community considering it a a "whole" and not as isolated groups. We must begin to understand that investments in all these areas only strengthen and build "community." What Council needs to direct is the development of infrastructure - sport, art, culture, recreation, etc - based on appropriate business case considerations and efficient project management policies that incorporate best financial, social, and environmental practices that will expand the quality of life for all of us, in a sustainable and measurable manner. We do this by thinking as a whole community and by shedding our "traditional" approaches to funding and building these projects.

Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society question:
Many Lethbridge residents with First Nations' Status face considerable difficulty when accessing services in the City of Lethbridge. As Status holders, they are referred to support on reserve. On reserve, they are referred to services in the city as they are residents of Lethbridge. As an elected official, how would you propose to remediate these gaps in service and accessibility issues?

First and foremost, City Council must recognize that we are advocates for our residents. As such, if residents with First Nations' Status are facing this challenge, then we ought to be engaging the federal government (and, where applicable, the provincial government) to fulfill their responsibility in appropriately coordinating necessary services for members of the FNMI communities, regardless of the location of their residence. If the service gap is occurring in a municipal service, then City Council should instruct a review of the service and engage with our First Nations' counterparts, to discuss the service delivery gap and discover options. Regular and on-going conversations between City Council and our local First Nations counterparts (Chief and Council) and administrative units should also occur, given the cultural, spiritual and economic impact that the First Nations people provide to our community.

Group question 1:
On council, would you activily support the following?
Ward system for electing councillors? Please choose:
Yes
No
Unsure

Yes

Group question 1b:
On council, would you activily support the following?
Councillor become a full-time position? Please choose:
Yes
No
Unsure

Yes

Group question 2:
The City of Lethbridge is a signatory to the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination. In addition to this, do you support the allocation of additional financial resources to create local initiatives that foster the city's commitment to inclusion? In the comment box please elaborate on your answer. Please choose:
Yes
No
Unsure

Yes
As the Leaders of this community, City Council sets the tone for inclusivity and diversity through dignified and respectful dialogue with our residents. As for "funding local initiatives that foster the city's commitment to inclusion," the City has a number of programming and planning grants available to community organizations. As such, one option could be to add a condition of "inclusivity" to the application request, which would challenge local groups to think about "otherness" within our city and create ways of including more diverse identities within the event. Another possible action would be to establish a committee charged with examining City policies and bylaws through the 'lens' of diversity and inclusivity (similar to CAWI in Ottawa, but with broader participation and mandate). The objective of this group could be to evaluate City policies and bylaws, then make recommendations to City Council and city administration that would support our participation in CMARD. In effect, we would be turning our words into actions.

Group question 3:
Do you support a bylaw that ensures all buildings serving the public (existing, renovated and new) are physically accessible? Please elaborate on your answer in the comment section. Please choose:
Yes
No
Unsure

It's complicated
Given that we have an aging population that is living longer, and that more people with physical and mobility challenges are able to access public spaces, we need to consider universal access to our buildings and facilities. All public access city-owned facilities and infrastructure should be accessible to those individuals with physical and mobility challenges, and they should be accessible in a logical and progressive manner. While I would hope that privately owned, but publicly accessible buildings - stores, offices, restaurants, et cetera - were all accessible, at this time I prefer 'voluntary compliance' to such an inclusive consideration. Quite often, it takes educating individuals about diverse needs to affect change. For example, the City - perhaps through the inclusivity committee, suggested above - could identify best practices for accessibility (which requires staff to be aware of this!), and share that with those who have a development permit that does not include such consideration. Then - as with all development-based policies trying to encourage best practices - a reward system, such as short-term tax abatement or expedited permitting, could be implemented. The ultimate goal should be universal access in our community. When made aware of the opportunities, I believe we can achieve that.

Group question 4:
The following are some of the issues you may be asked to address on City Council. Please choose no more than your top 5 priorities.

  • Affordable and plentiful family recreational and leisure opportunities
  • Bikeable city
  • Frequent and accessible public transportation
  • Vibrant downtown
  • Available low-income housing
  • Community gardens
  • Residential waste reduction
  • Reduced administration costs at City Hall
  • Promotion of Lethbridge as a “City of Choice” for skilled workers
  • Low residential taxes
  • Reduced business licensing costs
  • No Herbicide city policy
  • Municipal Food policy
  • City operated curbside recycling
  • A third bridge to the West
  • Airport enhancement
  • Other (please explain in comment box below)

Other (please explain in comment box below), Frequent and accessible public transportation, Vibrant downtown
Other: 1) curbside recycling: explore all forms of private, public or joint enterprise to provide the best possible service and value to our residents; 2) Undertake performance and value audits to identify efficiencies and inefficiencies within our operations and capital projects; 3) Incorporate 'best practices' in our business case development and project management for all city operations; 4) A 'vibrant downtown' must encourage entrepreneurship, be bikeable and walkable, and provide leisure opportunities; 5) A strong public transport system reduces infrastructure and some operating costs associated with automobiles. A strong system must be interconnected with a network of bike routes, be proximate to density, low income housing and community gardens, and emphasize sustainable growth within our city.

To see the complete survey