Rural crime epidemic a focus for UCP

Rural crime epidemic a focus for UCP

Drayton-Devon MLA Mark Smith says UCP trying to get NDP’s attention

The MLA who represents a large portion of the County of Wetaskiwin notes his party is trying everything they can do to get the NDP government to recognize the rural crime epidemic.

Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton-Devon, noted the issue of rural crime, which has flared up across Alberta, is being discussed on farms and in rural communities in this area too.

Smith noted the United Conservative Party has asked for a debate on this issue in the Legislature to present information collected through UCP MLA efforts such as interviews and town hall meetings with Albertans.

Smith said property crime has skyrocketed in some areas and rural folks are struggling with answers to the question of how to deal with it. Smith said some Albertans have reported break-ins three, four or five times and the MLA said he’s disappointed, despite the issue causing problems for years, the NDP hasn’t addressed it until a few days ago.

The MLA said talking with residents and police, it’s obvious rural residents are being targeted and Smith said criminals are even using strategies such as placing a false 911 call at one end of the municipality, then committing crimes at the other end of the municipality.

Local concerns

At a County of Wetaskiwin open house held Mar. 14 at Angus Ridge Hall south of the City of Wetaskiwin, several rural residents voiced concern about being the targets of criminals. One resident noted farmers are very apprehensive about strangers in the area, and confused about what they can do about strange vehicles driving into their yards uninvited.

Demand for action on rural crime

On March 14 one federal Conservative Party MP teamed up with some provincial counterparts in the UCP on the Alberta Legislature steps to demand action from multiple levels of government on the rural crime epidemic.

MP Shannon Stubbs who represents the Lakeland area, spoke along with UCP MLAs Mike Ellis, Calgary-West, Angela Pitt, Airdrie, and Jason Nixon, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and drew attention to Stubbs’ upcoming federal Motion-167, aiming at the rural crime epidemic.

According to a press release, “Motion 167 calls on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to assess rural crime rates and trends, examine RCMP policing, and staff resources along with provincial and municipal partnerships in rural and remote communities across Canada, and to provide recommendations.”

Stubbs stated at the Legislature she’s voiced concern about rural crime in the House of Commons many times over the past two years with no results.

According to the UCP, “In 2015, Canada’s crime index rose for the first time in 12 years, with the highest increase in Alberta and western Canada. The region experienced a 10 per cent growth in rural crime. Alberta faced an 80 per cent increase in property crime across the province and an increase of up to 105 per cent in theft of $5,000 or under, and an increase of 58 per cent in motor vehicle theft in some areas.”

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca