LETHBRIDGE – With provincial and federal elections scheduled for 2019, Mayor Chris Spearman hopes those seeking office remember they need to be partners with municipalities.
During a year-end conversation with LethbridgeNewsNOW, Spearman said provincial and federal governments can’t look at the relationship with the city as that of a parent and child.
“I think our priorities are to work together with our community groups to address some of those social issues, with the other orders of government,” he said. “We’ll be challenged by the fact that there are a couple of elections on the horizon. And we always want other orders of government to be partners with municipal government. We want them working with us. They represent the same people. We want to be effective in communicating our needs and working together to make sure that the needs of the citizens of Lethbridge are met.”
Spearman added social issues will be at the forefront for the city.
“We want to address racism in the city. We want to make sure that our Indigenous people have the same opportunity for jobs, for education, and for housing. And we want to see them achieve higher levels of success. So, making progress on Truth and Reconciliation within our city is going to be an important priority.”
With the population ticking ever closer to the 100,000 mark, Spearman said Lethbridge has taken on a small big-city feel, rather than a big small town – a “small Calgary rather than a big Raymond,” as he puts it. And that’s affecting people’s perception of service, he feels.
“It’s interesting, but I think there’s an expectation of high levels of service from some people in the community, and we do get enquiries – we try to respond to as many as we can – about perceived service gaps, if you like,” Spearman explained. “But it’s interesting that there’s still an expectation of individual attention. It’s challenging to meet that as the city grows.”
Spearman hopes that Lethbridge in 2019 is perceived as a good place for investment.
“We want to promote economic development. We want to make sure that we’re providing jobs for the graduates of our college and our university. And we want to convince young people to stay in the city and find employment. Whatever we can do to stimulate the economy and work with other orders of government to make sure that takes place.”
He hopes that includes continued support from the province in the form of the municipal sustainability initiative to fund infrastructure projects. And Spearman said getting through the challenges caused by low oil prices will require cooperation with local business and the construction industry.
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