Is Blaine Hyggen trying to prevent public presentations to city council?

If the “Defund the Watch” organizers requested to present to city council, why are they listed as a written submission? And why is Hyggen’s name next to their submission?

Last month, Rebecca Runions and Jaisie Walker, two Lethbridge citizens, presented to the Lethbridge Police Commission a proposal to defund “The Watch”.

Started in early 2019, The Watch (according to the City of Lethbridge’s website), “provides an additional layer of safety to citizens by offering services such as safe walks and discouraging negative use through public visibility, de-escalation tactics and real time communication to the appropriate emergency services.”

Runions and Walker presented to the police commission on the heels of a petition they started that was calling for the defunding of the programme. As of the writing of this article, the petition has received over 5,700 signatures.

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Two weeks before presenting to the commission. they also wrote an op-ed in the Lethbridge Herald, highlighting the rationale raised in their petition and in their presentation.

The police commission ultimately did nothing with their presentation or their request. So they reached out to the Lethbridge City Council. In an email dated last Sunday, Reunions requested that she and Walker be able to present to city council on the same issue.

However, in the city council agenda for this afternoon, Runions and Walker aren’t listed under presentations. They’re listed under submissions (# 5.4). Which means that the information they submitted to council will be distributed to council, but they won’t be able to present on it.

If you look to the left of 5.4, you’ll see the initials “B.E.H.”. That’s Blaine Hyggen. He’ll be the one bringing forward whatever resolution city council puts forward to this submission. And it makes sense that whatever resolution is attached to the submission/presentation would be connected to him, since he’s on the police commission.

But if Runions and Walker requested a presentation, why is it only a submission?

And given that Hyggen is the one bringing forward the resolution on the submission, does that mean he’s the one who changed it from a presentation to a submission?

If so, that’s intriguing, given that he’s literally insisting in the same meeting this afternoon that city council delay second reading of the conversion therapy bylaw so that the public can make presentations to council.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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