By Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald on February 3, 2022.
LETHBRIDGE HERALD[email protected]
City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion to provide nearly $500,000 in annual funding to the Blood Tribe/Kainai Nation to provide Blackfoot Resource Hub services.
The money comes mainly from the federal government and part of the province of Alberta. No city taxpayer money is involved.
The annual funding amount is precisely $496,248. The motion also asks the City Manager and Clerk to sign any other documents that may be required in relation to the Hub Services Agreement which expires on December 31, 2024.
Councilor Mark Campbell, while addressing the motion, told council “it’s money that was already there that needed to be reallocated and it’s critical funding for the Blackfoot Resource Hub.”
Mike Fox, Director of Community Services, added, “This is critical infrastructure needed by part of our population in Lethbridge. It will be an awareness and help other services see their services through the Blackfoot lens.
He told council that the Blood Tribe and the Kainai Nation were the successful bidders to provide the service. The city’s Cultural and Social Policy Committee recently learned that the Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society was originally approved to allocate funding, but was having unforeseen organizational problems and was unable to to respect the agreement.
A motion by Councilor John Middleton-Hope calling on the city to consider options for housing the hub outside the chosen Bowman Building site was opposed by Deputy Mayor Belinda Crowson, who cast the only dissenting vote .
Middleton-Hope’s motion calls for the administration to report to council Feb. 15 on how the city determined the Bowman should be used for the hub. It also asks the administration, with reference to the plan for rationalization and optimization of the city’s assets which is currently in progress, and the future master plan of the civic communes, to provide information on the proposed timelines and plans. for the sale of the Bowman. The council also wants to know what the Bowman is used for and who currently occupies it.
Several councilors and Mayor Blaine Hyggen spoke in favor of the motion while Crowson said the City must act now to address homelessness here.
“What I am asking in this motion is that the administration be charged with the responsibility of going back and assessing the location that has been identified for this purpose. There are other potential uses for this facility, Middleton-Hope said.
“I think it is important for the administration to go back and provide us with the rationale for identifying the particular location that has been identified. But you also have to look at what other potential locations could be used for that long-term purpose,” Middleton-Hope said.
Crowson disagreed, saying during debate on the motion that Lethbridge only spends 15% of what comparable cities do on social programs.
“And yet, it’s a community that is still surprised that we have social issues and concerns. It is a city that is surprised when we know that people are dying in our streets, that there are homeless people and that we have a lot of worries.
“We know that one of the ways we need to deal with this is through social programs. And yet the city is incredibly still in this area,” Crowson said.
She said the only thing that can stop the hub from moving forward is “Lethbridge City Council, because in order for this Indigenous resource hub to move forward, space is needed. And we have one, we have the Bowman that’s been used by sports groups to hold various games around the city over the years, it’s been used by children’s programs over the years, and it’s been used by many many other groups,” she said.
The Bowman’s purpose since leaving the Allied Arts Council, Crowson said, “is to use it for community groups and here we have a community group that has come forward and wants to partner with us.” City Council can’t balk, we need to get things moving and we need to show a commitment that other levels of government have shown.
Martin Thomsen, executive director of Community Social Development, told the council regarding funding for the Hub “we get funding from the provincial government and the federal government to address homelessness and we have the specific pot from the federal government that needs to be allocated. to aboriginal homelessness. programs.”
He said provincial programs can target anyone in the city and “ultimately you allocate those dollars to have the greatest impact. Eighty percent of our homeless people are Indigenous, so it’s important to allocate the majority of our money to these efforts,” Thomsen said.
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