Another candidate has declared his intention to challenge for the mayor’s seat in Lethbridge. Keean Lehtinen is a business student at the University of Lethbridge, with a minor in International Management. He is currently working for a nonprofit doing government relations and industrial support. For the past four years he’s also worked with the Canadian Forces in Cold Lake, Alberta, doing civilian contracting work. He says the biggest issue Lethbridge is facing is the downtown homeless population, and he has an idea to help fix the issue.
Mental health services for students and seniors is also top of mind for Lehtinen going into his campaign, “A lot of students have just missed two years of their lives because of the COVID lockdowns. These are key developmental years, and I think that they’re going to need mental health supports. I think a lot of families can’t afford it now. If we wait for the provincial or federal government to start working through the bureaucracy to provide that funding, it might be too late for some people. They need help now, and that should be the municipal government’s responsibility.”
He says he wants to make sure that private interests don’t take priority over use of the Oldman River for families, and he would continue to advocate for protection of the Oldman River against industrial dumping and pollution.
The west side of Lethbridge is another focus for Lehtinen. He says all of the businesses are off of Whoop-Up and Metis Trail, and he wants to increase the amount of commercial development by creating business issuances and making new commercial zones.
Lehtinen says groups like the Sage Clan do great work to address issues like homelessness and addictions, “I think the municipal government should provide funding, because they shouldn’t be funded entirely off of donations. I think some of the funding that’s currently going towards organizations like The Watch, could be diverted to the organizations that are providing things like mental health supports, food, temporary housing for homeless people downtown.”
The mayoral hopeful told Bridge City News a large portion of his platform relies on building out and building up, “Lethbridge has one of the highest municipal tax rates anywhere in Alberta. Only beaten by Wetaskiwin in terms of high tax rates. I think right now as we’re having COVID restrictions lift, what we should prioritize is lowering taxes. A lot of businesses and individuals have had a massive loss of revenue because they either haven’t been able to work, or not enough customers have been coming to their businesses. I think the best way to cut taxes right now is to reduce the funding we give to cultural centres and the arts temporarily. I think 22% of the amount of municipal funding that we got in 2018-2019 went towards those community services like art galleries and performance centres.”
There are now seven candidates running for mayor in our city. The municipal election will take place on October 18.