Federal budget garners mixed reviews from Lethbridge organizations

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge groups see pros and cons in federal budget'
Lethbridge groups see pros and cons in federal budget
After the 2022 federal budget was released Thursday, stakeholders are looking into areas that may impact them. As Eloise Therien explains, some in Lethbridge are seeing some positive spending, paired with some worry over what’s missing. – Apr 8, 2022

The federal government’s 2022 budget sees an emphasis placed on housing, to combat rising prices by ramping up supply.

Bridget Mearns, the executive officer with the Building Industry & Land Development Association in Lethbridge, said supply is low in Lethbridge, but not at the same level as other cities.

“(The budget is) definitely is looking towards areas where supply is a huge problem,” she explained. “So mainly in the large urbans centres, primarily in British Columbia and Ontario.

“I don’t see (Lethbridge) seeing the crisis (in) the larger centres when they’re talking about supply. Where we do have need for supply is more in that low-income housing and supportive housing. So there is where some of those other initiatives can benefit Lethbridge.”

Read more: Budget 2022: Tax-free savings account coming for first-time homebuyers

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Mearns supports the federal government’s decisions on several housing-related fronts, including the housing accelerator fund, e-permitting, extension on the rapid housing initiative, the new affordable housing initiative fund, and the Tax-Free First Home Savings Account.

“The only caution that we did see, is there’s a mention of code changes,” she said. “Whenever there’s code changes, we have to be cautious that those changes are done in a way that have been researched, that are balances with the innovation so that we’re not eroding affordability for Canadians and Lethbridge residents.

“The Devil’s in the details, so we’ll see as these plans move forward. And if they move forward, and how they move forward, the real impact of them.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. reaction to federal budget housing investments'
B.C. reaction to federal budget housing investments

When it comes to addressing the rising cost of living in the budget, Mac Nichol with the Lethbridge Food Bank is pleased on some fronts.

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His organization witnesses community need on an ongoing basis.

“The support for dental care for children — at least to start here — is something that we are definitely in support of,” Nichol said.

“Over the past year or so, we’ve seen that our lunch program that we bring to schools has been taken up quite a bit, which is showing a lot more kids and younger adults that are needing support.”

However, affordability in general is a challenge that he didn’t really see addressed .

“Directly from what we’ve seen, food costs are just skyrocketing. As anyone can see when they go to the grocery store, the costs are way higher than they were even a few months ago.

“It would’ve been nice to see maybe a little bit more support toward that, and helping with the inflation. It didn’t seem like it was necessarily a priority for the federal government in this round of the budget.”

The City of Lethbridge told Global News it was unavailable to discuss the budget on Friday.

-With files from Craig Lord, Global News

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