Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Changes coming to Clean Sweep Program, including minimum wage pay

Workers in the Lethbridge Clean Sweep program could be making minimum wage after a motion during budget deliberations. The economic standing policy committee discussed Clean Sweep as part of a packaged motion, which included other downtown safety initiatives.

Councillor Jeff Carlson added a friendly amendment to the initiative to ensure participants are making at least minimum wage. Mike Fox, director of community services, said city administration has been working on a new contract which could see workers paid more.   

READ MORE: Aspects of Lethbridge Clean Sweep program ‘reeks of exploitation’: U of L professor

“We believe if we can guarantee a contract for the four years, they should come in a little bit cheaper so we are hoping to be able to work with our contractor to up to minimum wage and under the current budget,” he said. 

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The omnibus motion, if approved when committee sends the budget to council later this month, will move several programs, including the Diversion Outreach Team, Clean Sweep and Lethbridge Outreach Programs, from one time funding to ongoing. They were introduced by Councillor John Middleton-Hope, who said the programs provide support to businesses and individuals who are “impacted by abnormal behaviours in the downtown core.”

One of the items funded is a crime prevention through environmental design grant, which would be a matching grant for businesses and multi-family properties. This will see more than $220,000 allocated for the next four years. 

READ MORE: City allocates surplus encampment response money to downtown clean and safe program

The motions carried with unanimous support.

“Unless and until we actually solve some of these problems, we will have to continue with these stop gap measures that are there to bridge the gap and to solve some of the problems that are, not solve but actually try to maintain and create a better condition until we actually solve the problems,” said Councillor Belinda Crowson. “So I will support this — I would like to see more fulsome measures that actually go to the root problems that we have in our community, until we do these items will have to suffice.”

ALSO READ: ‘The barrier is us’: Crowson says no short term changes coming for affordable housing in Lethbridge

“I look forward to additional options that councilor Crowson might want to propose. I think that that provides for a much more wholesome examination of these very complex social problems,” Middleton-Hope responded. 

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