Just this week we learned St. Albert was ranked in the top five cities in the province for safest cities.
Maclean’s magazine ranked 229 cities in Canada based on 2016 crime statistics and St. Albert came in lower than the Canadian average on crime in almost every category. But the picture may not seem quite so rosy to people who have been hearing about crime in and around St. Albert this year.
There was the murder of a St. Albert senior earlier this year. Several home invasions occurred just outside the city. Three bodies have turned up just outside our city in the past two months, including a confirmed homicide in the last two weeks. One of the biggest fentanyl busts in the country was just on our doorstep in Sturgeon County. All of these incidents have occurred in recent months.
The same report that gave St. Albert a favourable rating for crime put the town of Morinville in its crosshairs. When crimes were indexed for population Morinville came 25th for youth crime, 34th for violent crime and higher than the national average for break-ins and fraud.
The Maclean’s rankings are based on 2016 crime statistics. What will be the picture when the numbers are crunched for 2017? In addition to the aforementioned crimes, the rise of fentanyl use in the region is also a concern and likely a contributor to crime.
With the types of crime we seem to be hearing more about, it’s no wonder people are on edge.
More than 100 people descended on the Alberta Legislature last week to demand something be done about rural crime. One Innisfail rancher said that her home had been robbed twice this year and she had two trucks stolen while she and her husband were home working on another area of the ranch. Her dogs thwarted two other attempts. A Spruce View area couple had their rural home robbed twice in three days this summer.
Just this summer a pair of Sturgeon County residents recorded home break-ins, at least one of which occurred while the resident was sleeping in another area of the house.
Those who came to the legislature to raise concerns about increasing rural crime sought solutions like more effective policing, a better justice system and better co-operation between levels of government. A single solution to the problem doesn’t exist, but clearly something has to be done.
Many of the problems related to crime stem from the opioid crisis. Making headway on this issue will help some of the related crime. Poverty is another issue that can lead to crime – it’s an issue that all levels of government need to tackle, particularly in the current economic climate in Alberta.
An investment in mental health initiatives would also have a positive effect on society and could help reduce crime.
Safety is the cornerstone of a healthy community, and in order to keep communities safe, the root causes of today’s crimes need to be addressed.