Lethbridge is a city in the province of Alberta, Canada, and the largest city in southern Alberta. It is Alberta's fourth-largest city by population after Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer, and the third-largest by area after Calgary and Edmonton. The nearby Canadian Rockies contribute to the city's cool summers, mild winters, and windy climate. Lethbridge lies southeast of Calgary on the Oldman River.
Lethbridge is the commercial, financial, transportation and industrial centre of southern Alberta. The city's economy developed from drift mining for coal in the late 19th century and agriculture in the early 20th century. Half of the workforce is employed in the health, education, retail and hospitality sectors, and the top five employers are government-based. The only university in Alberta south of Calgary is in Lethbridge, and two of the three colleges in southern Alberta have campuses in the city. Cultural venues in the city include performing art theatres, museums and sports centres.
The population of Lethbridge was 83,960 in 2008. In 2006, the federal census reported a population of 74,637 in the city and 95,196 in the metropolitan area. In 2006, Lethbridge had a predominantly white population; only one out of eight people were non-European, compared to one in ten in 2001. Of those, 40 percent were aboriginal, most of whom came from the nearby Peigan and Kainai nations. Of the remaining 60 percent, Japanese, Chinese and Latin American made up the largest portion at over 1,200, 920 and 705 respectively.
2001 distribution of religions in LethbridgeThe most commonly observed faith in Lethbridge is Christianity. According to the 2001 federal census, 50,245 residents, representing 76 percent of respondents, indicated they were Christian. Just over 22 percent of Lethbridgians reported no religious affiliation, which was higher than the national average of 16 percent. The number of residents reporting other religions, including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Sikhs amounted to nearly 2 percent. For specific denominations, Statistics Canada reported 14,965 Roman Catholics who were well over 22 percent of the population, and 10,235 members of the United Church of Canada who were about 15 percent of the population. For Mormons, Statistics Canada counted 5,680 adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was almost 9 percent of the population of Lethbridge at that time; this was significantly higher than the national average of 0.5 percent. Less numerous denominations included 3,605 Anglicans (more than 5 percent of the population), 3,025 Lutherans (more than 4 percent), and 2,155 Baptists (more than 3 percent).
According to the 2006 census, more than 85 percent of residents spoke English as a first language. More than 4 percent spoke German, well over 2 percent spoke Dutch and almost 1 percent each spoke French, Chinese, and Spanish as their first language. The next most commonly spoken languages were Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian, Japanese, Italian, Persian, Blackfoot, and Tagalog.
Mass transit in Lethbridge consists of 40 buses (with an average age of 10 years) operating on more than a dozen routes. Traditionally, bus routes in the city started and ended downtown. In the early 21st century, however, Lethbridge Transit introduced cross-town and shuttle routes, such as University of Lethbridge to Lethbridge College, University of Lethbridge to the North Lethbridge terminal, and Lethbridge College to the North Lethbridge terminal. Several routes converge near the Chinook Regional Hospital, although it is not officially a terminal.
The Parks and Recreation department maintains the citywide, 30-kilometre (19 mi) pedestrian/cyclist Coal Banks Trail system (map). The system was designed to connect the Oldman River valley with other areas of the city, including Pavan Park in the north, Henderson Lake in the east, Highways 4 and 5 in the south and a loop in West Lethbridge (including University Drive and McMaster Blvd).
Four provincial highways (3, 4, 5, and 25) run through or terminate in Lethbridge. This has led to the creation of major arterial roads, including Mayor Magrath Drive, University Drive and Scenic Drive. This infrastructure and its location on the CANAMEX Corridor has helped make Lethbridge and its freight depots a major shipping destination. Lethbridge is 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of the United States border via Highways 4 and 5 and 210 kilometres (130 mi) south of Calgary via Highways 2 and 3. Highways 2, 3 and 4 form part of the CANAMEX trade route between Mexico, the United States, and Canada.
Lethbridge is near the Lethbridge County Airport and the CPR rail yards in Kipp, Alberta. The rail yards were moved to Kipp, just west of the city, from downtown Lethbridge in 1983 to make way for commercial expansion. The county airport provides commercial flights—to Calgary, Edmonton and other Alberta cities, and to Mexico—as well as private and charter flights elsewhere. The airport provides customs services for flights arriving from the United States.