Chris Spearman speaking to local media during a city COVID-19 update. Photo credit to City of Lethbridge YouTube.
Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman says he’s sent off letters to the UCP government asking the province to consider some much-needed infrastructure projects in the city.
Last week, the UCP government announced it’s allocating almost $2 billion right now from the 2020 Capital Plan to create jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spearman says Lethbridge should be, and needs to be included. “Top of mind of course in the Highway 3 bridge. The reason why that needs attention is because of the non-standard off ramp from the west side which is a safety issue. I want to make sure that is on their radar.”
The cost of that project has been pegged at $100 million, but has not been included in recent provincial budgets in October 2019 or February 2020.
There were also no capital projects for Lethbridge in either of those budgets.
In making the infrastructure announcement, Premier Jason Kenney said last week infrastructure investments will be focused on projects that can be started quickly. “By doubling our capital maintenance and renewal project funds, we will deliver much-needed improvements to important assets, keep companies operating and most importantly, keep Albertans working. As the weather improves and buildings are empty, now is the perfect time for us to act.”
Mayor Spearman also points to a pair of provincially-owned railways crossings in Lethbridge which are in serious need of upgrades to meet current safety standards. One of those is at Highway 3 and 30th Street North, which the Mayor says is one of the most dangerous crossings in Canada.
In his letter to Premier Kenney, Spearman lists what the City of Lethbridge has done to date in response to COVID-19 and also mentions the City’s immediate priorities which include:
- Lethbridge Exhibition Park Project
- Lethbridge Airport
- Permanent Supportive Housing Facility (funding already approved)
The letter the Mayor sent off to the Transportation Minister asks Riv McIver to keep in mind “the safety of the citizens of Lethbridge and visitors to our city.”
Spearman says he’s seeking clarification from the Kenney government on provincial supports for municipalities to manage near term cash flows.
Earlier this month, Lethbridge City Council passed a motion (in a 7-2 vote) to increase the City’s line of credit borrowing from the usual $10 million up to $60 million to cover any needs as the COVID-19 health crisis continues.