Lethbridge city councillors address doctor shortage, undesirable public behaviour at meeting

Lethbridge city council passed a number of resolutions at Tuesday’s meeting that align with its Gateway to Opportunity 2022 Action Plan, which lists the health and well-being of residents as a top priority.

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Council first voted unanimously to allocate $15,000 from contingency funding to a family physician marketing and recruitment campaign, in partnership with the Chinook Primary Care Network, Alberta Health Services and Economic Development Lethbridge.

As part of that resolution, council also directed the city manager to continue to explore opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with AHS and CPCN and report back, as well as to write a letter to Alberta’s health minister advocating for support and funding for an academic teaching clinic in Lethbridge.

“Council is continuing to show our commitment to Lethbridge residents with a common goal of recruitment and retention of family physicians in our community,” Mayor Blaine Hyggen said.

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The action stemmed from an update and proposed action plan presented on April 27 to the cultural and social standing policy committee on the ongoing physician shortage in the area.

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Council also passed a new Public Places Bylaw on Tuesday. The bylaw will take effect on July 1, 2022, and is intended to work as a foundation to clearly communicate community expectations for respectful behaviour.

The second and third readings of Bylaw 6280 were passed unanimously after a recommendation from the community safety standing policy committee.

When enacted, the bylaw will provide a broader definition of public spaces than the city’s previous Streets Bylaw. It will also list a number of undesirable behaviours, including littering, graffiti, public urination, spitting, fighting, bullying, panhandling, weapons and fireworks.

A standard fine of $300 will apply to all of those offences.

According to the city, the intention is not to initiate increased ticketing, but instead to adopt community policing techniques that will engage and educate people in order to discourage the behaviour from happening in the first place.

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In another unanimous vote on Tuesday, council also passed a resolution that will see six more pickleball courts added to Legacy Park.

Construction will begin in late 2022 or early 2023. Once complete, there will be a dozen courts for players to choose from.

“The 12 courts will include wind protection and an operational model and agreement for use, and access to the courts will be developed through discussions with the Lethbridge Pickleball Club to ensure access to both the club and the public,” said Robin Harper, the city’s general manager of recreation and culture.

The project was approved as part of the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program budget. But before moving ahead, the city conducted public engagement on the Get Involved Lethbridge website in November and December of 2021, with 601 total responses.

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