Downtown Lethbridge groups voice new, increased, and reduced concerns
LETHBRIDGE, AB – Over a dozen groups operating in and/or representing groups in Lethbridge’s downtown say things in the area are changing, for better or for worse.
Initially, the City of Lethbridge polled them earlier this year as part of the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy. A six-month debrief was conducted in August and was presented to council at the December 2nd, 2019 Community Issues Committee meeting.
External groups that were surveyed include Lethbridge Police and The Watch program, Heart of Our City Committee, the Downtown BRZ, Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Mental Health Association, Diversion Outreach Team, and the Clean Sweep Program.
Several departments within the municipality were also questioned, such as the City Manager’s office, Urban Revitalization, Communications, 311, Community Social Development, Recreation and Culture, Waste and Recycling, Parks, Bylaw Services, and the Lethbridge Public Library.
“Generally, the community has responded positively to the DCSS as it provides a vital toolkit of resources that allows for coordinated, timely and effective response,” reads a report prepared by Urban Revitalization Manager Andrew Malcolm.
Since the initial survey, new issues have come up, including violence towards services and those trying to help, more groups of people using drugs rather than individuals, creative trespassing and theft techniques, and increasingly-polarized community, discarded drugs, and videos of drug use on social media.
Among the concerns that have gotten more serious are areas like Galt Gardens becoming less safe and clean, there being more racial insensitivity, impact on staff mental health, erratic behavior, a loss of profit for businesses, people sleeping in public spaces, and trespassing on rooftops.
They are seeing less public drug use on the streets, publicly-visible needle debris and overdoses, safety issues during standard business hours, and loitering and panhandling.