In a Notice of Motion submitted earlier this week by Councillor Buck Buchanan, the City of Red Deer will look at exploring alternate solutions to property crimes.
“We know these are the fastest growing crimes and they don’t necessarily fall into the same priority as serious and violent crimes,” said Buchanan. “What this Notice of Motion is for is really to ask the people involved in law enforcement to take a long hard look in regards to creating something to expediate that process.”
A Supreme Court of Canada ruling, known as the Jordan decision, places new limits on how long accused people must wait for their matters to go on trial. Court of Queen’s Bench case trials must now be concluded within 30 months and provincial court matters within 18 months, with an extension to 30 months if the case includes a preliminary inquiry.
Although crimes against property are the fastest growing category of crime, they will fall in priority to more serious and violent crimes. This is in accordance with the Prosecution Service Practice Protocol, which is designed to provide a standardize method for prosecutors to assess and review files to determine which files can proceed where resources are not adequate to prosecute all otherwise viable charges.
“We need to try to get something in place for everybody that’s dealing with this and that’s all law enforcement across Canada,” said Buchanan.
His fellow councillors were, too, in support of his motion.
“The reality is we’re seeing more property crime in our community and so if that is a crime that you’re impacted by as a citizen and you think about the law enforcement that investigate the crime, that spend their time and our tax dollars, when the time comes and a court has to decide which crime they’re going to here, a property crime or a serious crime, it will go likely, because of the timeline, to the serious crime,” said Councillor Dianne Wyntjes.
She said while she appreciates the advocacy the City will do, this has clearly been a federal court decision that has major implications for safety and justice in the system.
Councillor Lawrence Lee said enforcement is one end of the spectrum.
“We talk to our youth in the community and we try to address crime proactively in a lot of those forums, and to me this resolution speaks to that as well. What does it say to the offenders that are charged with a property crime and then suddenly their off the hook? What does that say to them?” he said.
The City of Red Deer will advocate to Alberta Justice and Solicitor General and K Division to engage with other policing stakeholder to explore alternate solutions to property crimes such as dedicated courts. This is so that enforcement is not impeded by systems and processes that apply priority based on the type of crime.
The City of Red Deer will also request that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities accept this as an advocacy priority on behalf of municipalities across the country.