Members of Lethbridge city council will sit as the economic standing policy committee (SPC) all week, deliberating the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for 2022 to 2031.
Monday’s meeting began with city manager Craig Dalton and city treasurer Hailey Pinksen setting the stage for the week.
Pinksen informed council that the available forecasted funding through 2025 is about $74 million for CIP projects.
With budget in mind, council will also consider public feedback during their deliberations. Lethbridge residents were invited to participate in CIP engagement prior to this week’s meeting, and Pinksen said she is pleased with the significant response.
“We had a really great turnout in terms of stats for online engagement,” she said Monday.
“Just over 4,000 unique visitors, many unique participants who weighed in on at least one question, and the average was about 12.5 minutes spent on the platform, per visitor.”
Pinksen is expected to provide a more detailed look at engagement results when the Economic SPC reconvenes at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Community projects make up a large portion of the items up for debate this week, including proposals for a new arena, performing arts centre, outdoor sports court and a number of new transit hubs and terminals.
Among the big-ticket community projects pitched is the relocation of the city’s oldest fire station: Fire Station No. 3.
The facility on 16 Avenue S. is about 60 years old, and Chief Marc Rathwell says it no longer fulfils the needs of Lethbridge’s growing south side.
Lethbridge Fire and EMS proposed two options on Monday to replace the aging station. Option No. 1 is a $27.2-million facility and option No. 2 is a scaled-back building for about $16 million.
Rathwell said the difference in price is due to the second option not possessing the administrative and emergency management capacity of the first option, which — if built — would become the largest fire station in Lethbridge.
The presentation by the fire chief was unanimously received as information.
The general manager of Opportunity Lethbridge, Michael Kelly, also presented early in Monday’s meeting.
Kelly proposed commitments for a new public elementary school — recently announced by the province — set to open in September of 2025.
For a proposed $1.7 million, Kelly pitched development on the school site, including grade, loam, seed, irrigation, trees, pathways and sports fields that may include soccer and baseball.
Kelly also proposed an upgrade to the size of the new school’s gymnasium for $850,000. The project would increase the size of the new elementary school’s gym in order to accommodate community organizations looking for space during evening hours.
Both presentations by Kelly were unanimously received as information.
When Tuesday’s meeting begins, the Economic SPC will pick up with debate on an omnibus motion that could see a four-year capital plan (2022-2025) approved within the 10-year planning context, in order to include those projects in the 2023-2026 operating budget.
The resolution includes sections C, E, F and D (community projects that have previously been approved) except for item E-7, which deals with curbside organics.
The green cart item was divided from the motion in order to allow members of council to debate it separately.
The goal of this week’s deliberations — set for 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day — is to finish with recommendations that will be forwarded to the May 18, 2021 meeting of city council for final approval.