Red Deer has been named the second worst among Canada’s 100 largest cities and police districts, according to a Maclean’s analysis of Statistics Canada’s collection of police reported figures in terms of dangerous cities.
According to the report, the City’s crime rate has risen 7.4% in the last year.
But Mayor Tara Veer said Red Deer remains a great place to be.
“In terms of Red Deer’s community identity and image, Red Deer has worked very hard over the past couple of years to elevate our national profile, image and identity. Great examples of that include securing the bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup and the 2015 Esso Cup,” she said. “We’ve gone through an image and branding exercise in terms of telling Albertans and other Canadians who Red Deer is. We have been more methodical in terms of trying to elevate and improve our national profile and image. I think we’ve had some success in that.
“Having said that, when an article comes out such as the one that transpired in Maclean’s, it presents us with a challenge. We need to ensure that Red Deer is the city of choice for new population and business growth. Obviously it’s a challenge when we receive media like that because it works against some of our strategies on economic development.”
She added it is important to show the full story of what Red Deer is across the spectrum. “We are also going to be continuing our efforts to reduce crime and promote public safety.”
The RCMP in Red Deer have made progress on tackling crime, especially regionally, in the last couple of years.
“Our RCMP are very clear to us on the point that much of the more serious crime that occurs in Red Deer is the result of individuals who are engaging in high-risk activities and who are known to each other. On the whole, the RCMP have made it clear that the community is safe but there are still challenges within the community,” she said. “The one challenge is with respect to property crime in that when victimization occurs with property crime, that is often driven by the drug trade and trafficking. What we’re experiencing right now is that changes within our economy often result in social volatility.”
Pointing to this past Monday’s press conference regarding the Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Veer said citizens have identified safety as the number one priority.
“One of the things we’re doing to react to this is we are actively working with the provincial government to get a handle on some of the social and public health challenges that are proving to be enforcement challenges locally,” she said. “Council is looking to update our Annual Policing Plan and this fall we have the Red Deer Community Safety Ad Hoc Committee coming before council. They will be able to look at the full spectrum all the way from crime prevention to enforcement. This gives us a community plan that we can implement and hopefully see reductions on this in future.
“When council discussed the Annual Policing Plan for this year, we flagged property crime as something we really need to get a handle on. As much as we’ve made significant gains in reducing organized and personal crime, we haven’t seen the results that we’re looking for in terms of property crime.”
– with files from Kalisha Mendonsa