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Downtown Lethbridge lawlessness task force seeing positive progress

Lethbridge's downtown lawlessness task force is encouraged by the results of its first six months of operation. (CTV News) Lethbridge's downtown lawlessness task force is encouraged by the results of its first six months of operation. (CTV News)

Lethbridge has been working to address lawlessness in the city’s downtown over the past six months.

Fire safety, graffiti, crime prevention and outlining roles of various City of Lethbridge departments are just several items the downtown lawlessness task force has been able to accomplish.

“We’re just really getting our legs under us and going forward we will be very successful, I’m hopeful, in helping our whole community get rid of some of these problems and solve some of the issues we have,” said Hunter Heggie, the chair of the task force.

Those issues include crimes such as window breaking, shoplifting, dumpster fires and open drug use.

Heggie says the task force is helping create real-life solutions to those challenges.

“A good example, the fire department… they have just recently brought forward stuff for us to go through, which shows the businesses and any of the buildings in the downtown what to do to fireproof their building,” Heggie said.

The purpose of the task force, which was created in December 2023, is to establish a cross-functional team to share knowledge and expertise – while also developing solutions and best practices.

“I always thought that this is a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle and these are all just one little piece that add to it and hopefully we can put the puzzle together,” Hunter added.

Since its inception, the task force has worked on analyzing crime data in the downtown area to determine how best to utilize resources.

The sub-committee is in discussions with the encampment response team, outreach services, the clean sweep program and the downtown education program.

There is ongoing work with urban revitalization, including the use of crime prevention through environmental design grants, which includes measures such as fencing, lighting, security cameras and rolling shutters.

“The task force is what we hoped for,” said Coun. John Middleton-Hope.

“It’s moved beyond the task force itself, which includes the inter-municipal lawlessness workshop, which includes mid-sized municipalities across the province of Alberta.”

“We found that the connections with multiple municipalities across Alberta to be incredible helpful.

“We’re talking about strategies that are working, strategies that are challenging, what are the ups and downs of utilizing a task force, what are the ups and downs of being able to share the information from a wider perspective and we’re finding some really substantial success.”

Heggie says the task force has lots of challenges ahead but is hopeful of the final outcome once strategies can be put in place.

“Our streets are bustling with citizens walking around and shopping in stores and supporting our downtown… that's what I would love to see,” Hunter said.

The task force will provide three updates to the city’s standing policy committee throughout the year, with a final review set for December. Top Stories

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