Councillor Survey Question 2

What do you think are the biggest issues affecting Lethbridge are, and how would you approach being an elected representative?

Rajko Dodic:

1. Covid-19 pandemic: initially, the Province was reluctant to introduce protective measures such as masking and I do give credit to Council for adopting a mask mandate when the Province would not. Later the Province did so as well and there is one currently in place so the City need not pass a parallel one but if the Province relaxes their mitigation efforts too soon, I would support Council stepping into the breach again to pass safety measures. 2. Safety issues. The Police Budget was recently cut which I believe was a mistake particularly bearing in mind that we have the dubious distinction of being the highest property crime rate per capita for municipalities with over 100,000 residents. The Police need a predictable budget they can rely on to do their job and it is counterproductive to reduce their budget in mid-cycle. That will need to be addressed by the new Council. 3. Infrastructure. Maintenance for green spaces and parks was cut back by $600,000 last year although $100,000 was put back in. Roads are like an off road course bearing in mind the tire killing pot-holes (I speak from experience). These may be somewhat mundane issues but are examples of what happens when you defer maintenance on our infrastructure and it needs to be addressed.


Nick Paladino:

Initially, I felt that Economic Development would be the biggest issue. However, in speaking with residents, I have come to the conclusion that our crime rate and public safety is more important right now, and not just in the downtown area.


Bill Ginther:

Among many other issues affecting our city are homelessness and addictions accompanied by a drastic increase in petty theft. Developing resources to address this issues (which are also a safety concern for citizens) are high in my list of issues that desperately need to be addressed.


Mark Campbell:

Homelessness and the drug crisis continues to be our biggest social issues right now. We will continue to work with all levels of government and to work with stakeholders in the city to find meaningful solutions.


Ryan Wolfe:

Spending: Council has forgotten and become desensitized to the fact that they are spending our money, no theirs. For example, during the economic and social cataclysm of COVID, council paid an Edmonton based firm to develop a new city logo. There is absolutely zero way to quantitatively justify these expenditures. We have absolutely no way of knowing if spending this money will benefit residents and business owners in any way. This is just one example but it drives the point home that we need to spend limited resources much more efficiently and effectively. Crime: For the second year in a row, you live in the city with the HIGHEST Crime Severity Index in the entire country. When I speak to business owners and neighbours, they all share their concerns about crime, criminal drug use, and safety. We have major city parks that remain basically unused and unusable due to the presence of used needles and due to the fear of encountering aggressive panhandlers or the fear of having to witness someone overdosing on illegal street drugs. Most of the homeless population are not dangerous and we need to work together to find helpful solutions. Unfortunately, there are criminals in our midst that break into businesses, assault business owners and create an atmosphere of fear that negatively impacts people’s perceptions of our city and especially of our beautiful downtown core. There are solutions to these issues but we have to act now. Law Enforcement needs to feel supported to ENFORCE the law. We can make Lethbridge a less appealing market for drug dealers and those that perpetrate crime in our city. My priority will be to engage with law enforcement and other community support services in order to find ways to prevent crime, punish criminals and support those that need and want help. Back to Business: I chose “Back to Business” as my slogan because like you I am ready to move on after a long and difficult struggle through the COVID pandemic. Many people lost their jobs, businesses left the city, many became gravely ill and sadly, some loved ones died. The pandemic is not over and there will be ramifications for months and years. Businesses, people and families will need time and support in order to recover. Lethbridge’s best days await and I am excited to work with you to revitalize our local economy and attract investment. Many business owners have shared that Lethbridge continues to have too much “red tape” at all levels. I agree and will work to streamline and simplify the regulatory and license procedures in order to encourage increased investment in Lethbridge. It’s time to get “Back to Business”.


Kelti Baird:

The perception of public safety in the community is this cycle's biggest election issue. We are at the cusp of a perfect storm: a depressed economy, global pandemic, looming climate crisis, and ongoing homelessness and opioid addiction are all contributing to a feeling of unrest and unease in the community. We're living in very interesting times to put it lightly. I approach the job of being an elective representative as a duty of honour. It would be my greatest honour to serve my community in this capacity, and I aim to be responsible to all citizens of Lethbridge and make decisions based on what is best for the greatest number of people in our community regardless of socioeconomic status.


Tim VanderBeek:

The biggest issue facing Lethbridge right now is the homelessness, drug addiction, and crime problem throughout the city. We need to develop an integrated and coordinated plan to break the cycle. The other issue is that the city needs to look after what we already have before we start pursuing new major projects.


Ryan Lepko:

Safety and the economy. Safety would be ensuring the police are properly equipped and staffed to provide that service. But also accountable to the taxpayers as they are the single highest cost to the city. Economy the city creates the environment to attract business. Competitive tax rate, non burdensome regulations and regulatory approvals. We have fantastic amenities, unfortunately Lethbridge's crime issues may be detracting some dollars being invested here.


Davey Wiggers:

The single biggest issue facing Lethbridge is the issue of community safety as it relates to the opioid crisis. i. Restore the unconscionable cuts to the 2021 & 2022 Police Budget, then institute Community Policing. ii. Create a Loitering By-Law (as precedented by other cities) then enforce it. iii. The Watch is great, enhance it with beat cops iv. Get Police back to policing duties and away from performing administration duties. Transit i. City has tried to improve it using CityLink, how’s that going? Are we engaging citizens affected by the changes to see how they feel? Are we pivoting where and when we need to? (Insert Ross Geller’s PIVOT! GIF here, lol.) ii. Ridership? The city already subsidizes ridership to the tune of some 80% of net budget. Incenting riders with student passes, or downtown employees so they don’t need to park their cars downtown. General passes when wholesale changes are made for example. This makes sense because polls never give you reliable data if the sample size is too small. Lastly, speaking of offering bus passes to downtown employees to save on parking. Downtown paid parking is the last on the list. i. I know only a couple people who have tried to convince me that the free parking at Park Place doesn’t draw potential shoppers away from downtown shops. Couple, as in 2. I know far more people who work downtown that believe otherwise. ii. Combine personal safety concerns with the prospect of having to pay a minimum $1.80 for a 5 minute in & out, guess what, I’m going to the mall. iii. There are potential issues with making downtown free parking, but thanks to the roaming meter checkers that cost us a fortune, we have the technology to restrict parking time, and still issue tickets.


Dale Leier:

[Editor: The candidate didn't provide a text answer, but instead attached a document on his 10 priorities, which is available on his website.]


Belinda Crowson:

Council needs to be working on multiple projects and multiple timelines at one time, thinking of both short-terms issues and immediate results, but also long-range planning and helping the community be successful long into the future. This requires a great depth of understanding of the issue, the ability to understand and work on complex issues, and being able to hold long-range perspective. Some of the short-term problems include social issues and crime and working with the community on economic recovery and positioning ourselves as a strong community coming out of the pandemic. Longer-term problems include sustainability (economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, etc), a comprehensive plan for community development (how to grow the city in a way that is intelligent, makes best use of current infrastructure and doesn’t add unnecessary financial strain) and ongoing work to develop necessary infrastructure (such as the airport, transportation systems, broad band, etc.). Combined with all of that, elected representatives must also keep in mind that they are the board of directors for the corporation of Lethbridge. Works needs to continue, both in the short-term and in the long-term, of ensuring the organization runs effectively and is well governed, with appropriate oversights and measurements in place.


Harold Pereverseff

1- Safety and security of our community, in all respects, for residential as well as business areas. 2- Current social issues stemming from drug abuse, homelessness, crime and proceeds of crime. 3- Expenditures and indiscriminate allocations of funds that have been administered by City Council. 4- High taxation rates for residential and business. 5- Lack of good and solid decisions made by City Council. 6- As your elected City Councillor, I will "Stop, Look, Listen and then Proceed" in all respects and all areas to make our community a safe place for business and residential families alike. I will ensure that adequate focus is placed on problem areas and that appropriate funding is in place to provide the tools and framework to address issues. I will always keep a fine tuned ear to the community, hearing suggestions and concerns from residents and business.


Shelby MacLeod:

Municipal government is the closest and easiest to invoke taxpayer spending controls of all the governing authority we vote for in Canada. Another reason municipal government is the most accountable level of government, you the taxpayer has easier access to a Lethbridge Council person, at a sporting event, on the street, church, in the grocery store, or wherever people gather. As a Councillor, I will be always be accountable to the people of Lethbridge on every decision or vote that I make.


Jenn Schmidt-Rempel:

Community safety, supports for people experiencing homelessness and addictions, and a lack of “listening” at City Hall are three significant issues. There appears to be a disconnect between the City of Lethbridge and its residents, there’s division in our community, and residents have lost faith in all levels of government and feel that there’s little to no leadership. In my platform I emphasize the importance and need for meaningful engagement and communication. This includes understanding the value of listening and hearing what people have to say. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I will listen, learn, and I will not be afraid to ask questions. I will also work hard to rebuild faith in our local leadership by working effectively with our residents, and different levels of government – holding them accountable for the services our city needs: from healthcare and mental healthcare supports, to supporting our post-secondary and skills building institutions. We need to be holding these levels of government accountable to our residents.


Darcy Logan:

There are two pressing issues for me; the push to Love Lethbridge, and the social crisis. We need to push for loving Lethbridge; let's elicit civic pride, and encourage our community to champion our world-class businesses, recreation, and cultural opportunities. Privileging local is particularly urgent as we transition out of the pandemic. We can quietly work toward solving other serious problems while being cheerleaders for our community. If we want to make our community a desirable place for investment, tourism, relocation, and retention, we need a positive and united front. The optics around our municipality haven't been great on the provincial and national stage, and we should focus on transitioning Lethbridge from being a regional hub to a major destination. The social crisis also needs immediate attention. We need to continue to advocate for our provincial government to support funding toward transitional housing, treatment, and other harm reduction measures. What we have tried so far hasn't worked. I am committed to getting stakeholders together at professionally facilitated visioning & roundtable discussion to develop concrete solutions; experts from mental health, addictions, transitional housing, public health, cultural stakeholders, harm reduction, business sector, and the invested public at large. There are inter-organizational conversations happening currently, but we need broader discourse if we are going to come up with pragmatic and actionable ways forward. These conversations need to be guided by expert mediators from outside of our community whose professional expertise is working with divided communities.


Robin Walker:

I believe the biggest issues currently facing Lethbridge are primarily those of a social nature, such as the homeless, opioid crisis, and divisiveness. I am also aware of the high taxes paid by our residents and that we need to make sure there is value being received for taxes paid (and if not then adjustments need to be made to either the rate, services and other expenses, or both). To address the social issues I would reach out to local community groups to generate ideas to address these issues, which I would then bring to council and the community at large. While I admit that am not fully versed on all the policies and procedures that are relevant to the position of City Councillor, I would quickly familiarize myself with all I need to know to serve our residents as best I can.

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