January 22nd, 2022

City Notebook: Sometimes it’s hard not to want what they have

By COLLIN GALLANT on December 4, 2021.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

In the world of southeastern Alberta, where it’s often said that self-reliance, ingenuity and get-to-it spirit are second to none, no where no how, it looks like Lethbridge is again eating what we’d like to order for lunch.

Lethbridge College will apply to become a poly technical institute, the Lethbridge Herald revealed this week.

That would make it open to a wider array of trade degrees and place it alongside Red Deer Polytechnic and several newly designated former colleges in Alberta.

The upshot is more prestige, a bigger budget, a bigger draw for out-of-town students and a better reason for hometown students to stay put.

That sounds like sweet relief in the Hat for its decade-old case of economic grumbles.

Instead, Lethbridge would have a university and a trade school, while Medicine Hat has a college’ a fact pointed out by Lethbridge College officials to the media.

Politicos may recall the recent single-issue council campaign from candidate Nicholas Martin toward getting a “university” in the city, adding a few hundred more stable jobs and more renters, not to mention possibilities for local social and business scenes that come from greater education in the arts and sciences.

Unfortunately though, you can’t just skip down to the registry office and get such a licence. You need a niche, money, community support and the ear of the province.

Note that Lethbridge College sort of went off script here.

Years ago it fired up a major donor campaign (which was well received by an active alumni association). It pushed to expand an agriculture program at a time when the province put the budget clamps on and stated that such duplication would not be tolerated.

Medicine Hat College has been at the mercy of whipsawing policy from the provincial ministry over the years. The major focus, beyond survival, has been to partner on a local business development strategy, and good for them.

But a two-year-old process to modernize the college’s mandate has melted into the background.

That’s been a pattern in the Hat, in general.

Last week this column hoped the potential of refocusing CFB Suffield as a high-tech training station wouldn’t fall to the fate of Hatters saying, “what a great idea!” then sitting back for someone else to make it happen.

Ditto hosting a Memorial Cup tournament. Everyone wants and would welcome this, it would seem. What’s the hold up? Are we all too polite to ask the Tigers ownership “why not?”

And as for those who grumble about city hall’s record of bringing in new industry, what have the self-reliant, ingenious and get-at-‘er entrepreneurs about town been up to?

A look ahead

City council will again take up proposed budget amendments for 2022 when it meets on Monday night.

Hatters will get a preview of the eventual plan to create a food truck alley and local market at the “Towne Square” project currently underway at 603 First St. SE.

100 years ago

Medicine Hat would hold its annual municipal election one week after a federal election campaign and a local provincial byelection, the News described during the week of Dec. 6, 1921.

First up, the News invited all Hatters to the Empress Theatre where News staff added tallies of the national vote on a huge board and called out bulletins by megaphone. The service was the first public display of a newly installed direct telephone line between The Canadian Press service and the News building next door on Sixth Avenue.

Liberal leader Mackenzie King would hold a clear majority over the Conservatives and new Progressive party, though local MP Robert Gardiner (a progressive affiliate) held onto his seat, first won a few months earlier in byelection.

On the provincial front, Mrs. Angus Baker, of Medicine Hat, would become the first woman in Alberta to be a chief returning officer when recently appointed cabinet ministers stood in byelections, a typical formality. Local MLA and Education Minister Perrin Baker ran unopposed.

Incumbent mayor Walter Huckvale said he would stand on his record, and accused opponents – Jimmie Hole, Isaac Bullivant and David Milne – of misrepresenting the expenses of the utility department. It began paying property taxes in 1921, argued Huckvale, which accounted for the difference.

In the United Kingdom a proposal to create an Irish Free State to end troubles was proposed by Prime Minister Lloyd George.

The jury in the trial of silent movie star Fatty Arbuckle was deadlocked.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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