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'Fighting that negative perception': Task force set up to tackle lawlessness in downtown Lethbridge

Lethbridge is launching a task force to address lawlessness in downtown. Lethbridge is launching a task force to address lawlessness in downtown.
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LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -

Lethbridge is launching a task force aimed at addressing crime in the city’s downtown.

The task force will be made up of members from city council, city administration, the downtown Lethbridge BRZ, Fire and EMS and LPS.

City council has approved the terms of reference for what is considered “downtown.”

“The task force is meant to be a multi-disciplinary group of people who will sort of ebb and flow within the task force depending on when we need expertise in a particular area,” said downtown Lethbridge BRZ executive director Sarah Amies.

Many business owners have wanted a task force like this to address public safety.

Some, like Hunter Heggie who owns King of Trade, have even added extra security to keep their business safe from crime.

“We've installed roll shutters, I know a lot of the businesses have downtown and throughout the city actually," Heggie said. "So it's not just downtown. That's solved some of our problems, but we can't roll shutter the entire city.”

The BRZ hopes the task force and other initiatives will encourage residents to shop and dine downtown.

“We're always fighting that negative perception of ‘downtown's not safe.’ The more people who are coming downtown and frequenting the restaurants who are going into the shops, the less likely you are to see the negative behaviour,” Amies said.

The task force is set to run throughout 2024.

Recommendations from the task force can work through a standing policy committee and be adopted by city council.

Council will have to review the success of the task force by Dec. 31, 2024.

“The reality of success will be the reduction of the observable lawlessness that we are experiencing in our community,” said acting mayor John Middleton-Hope.

The task force currently doesn't have a budget, but it can make funding requests for initiatives they believe will help keep downtown safe.

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