On Wednesday, Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman delivered his final State of the City address.
The presentation focused on the hardships and triumphs of the last year — inevitably including the economic toll of COVID-19.
Spearman confirmed that municipal taxes will have a zero per cent increase over the next three years to help ease the burden on Lethbridge residents and businesses.
“We’ll do everything we can to provide incentives and supports to businesses,” Spearman said Wednesday. “But we certainly are limited on what we can do.”
The address also pinpointed bright spots such as investment in the municipal airport, further agrifood corridor developments in the region and partnerships with downtown organizations like the Lethbridge Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) to continue to develop the downtown core into a welcoming space the city can be proud of.
The 3rd Avenue Festival Square is still under development for future community events.
“It’s scheduled to open on July 1, 2021, and I think that’s really going to be a bright spot,” Downtown BRZ executive director Tulene Steiestol said Wednesday. “I truly feel that it’s going to be one of those venues that… if you build it, they will come.”
Of his time in the mayoral office, Spearman said he’s proud of the reconciliation work done with the inclusion of Blackfoot culture in city proceedings, such as the official use of the greeting “Oki.”
He said he’s also very proud of the way his team was able to work collaboratively to accomplish so much in their time together.
He added that his main frustration is the lack of progress made to provide help to those struggling with drug addiction, homelessness and poverty in the community.
Spearman said he hopes incoming council members will continue to push for more resources.
“For the last eight years that I’ve been involved, we’ve built on the successes of previous councils, and I wish the new council every success in building on where the city is at today,” Spearman said.
Spearman announced earlier this month that he will not seek re-election in October’s municipal election.