The United Conservatives and NDP are trading political blows as the parties make promises ahead of the May 29 Alberta election and those announcements are being closely monitored in Lethbridge.
Local business advocates are hoping the next government will cut costs by providing tax relief for the sector.
“People are coming back into the downtown and spending a bit more money,” said Sarah Amies, executive director of the Downtown BRZ. “However, we do have the constant threat of inflation looming over us and so it’s a constant struggle for small and medium businesses.”
Southern Alberta riding profiles: Lethbridge-East
Another issue identified by the Downtown BRZ, and shared at city hall, is public safety.
Mayor Blaine Hyggen wants more provincial support to pair with municipal initiatives.
“We’ve seen other communities, Calgary and Edmonton, that have added resources that have been funded provincially and that what we’re looking for,” Hyggen said. “To make sure those additional resources, we get them here in Lethbridge.”
The public sector is also a key area for stakeholders.
“Hospitals, post-secondary, that’s a significant chunk of the local economy and so what is any government going to do in terms of investing in those spaces?” said Economic Development Lethbridge CEO Trevor Lewington.
Health care has been widely discussed during the campaign, with both front-running parties making promises for Lethbridge, including funding commitments for catheterization services at Chinook Regional Hospital.
UCP funding Lethbridge catheterization lab, NDP makes cardiac care promise
“That’s really exciting to see and I’m looking forward to having that realized,” Hyggen said.
Economically, experts say southern Alberta’s diversity gives it an advantage over other areas of the province.
Promises impacting one of the region’s most important drivers, agriculture, are a main focus for Lewington.
“What are their proposals around maintaining trade agreements, opening up borders, creating access to ports?” Lewington said.
With more than a week left in the campaign, it remains to be seen which party’s promises will be put to the test after election day.
Southern Alberta riding profiles: Lethbridge-West
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