In the November 29, 2010 issue of Macleans, our Mayor, Melissa Blake took the opportunity to respond to some seemingly unfair data used in the October 14, 2010 edition of Macleans titled, The worst of the west: Drugs plus gangs equal the top crime cities in Canada.
If you missed the article written by Ken MacQueen with Colby Cosh and Patricia Treble the first time around, you can read now online at: http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/10/14/the-worst-of-the-west/
Below is the a section from the article, this section is focused on Alberta:
Alberta followed B.C. as the province with the largest one-year drop in its CSI score. Bucking the long-term trend in decline is the northern boom town of Fort McMurray. Alberta’s oil sands capital has grown at the same dizzying pace as its defining industry—nearly 10 per cent a year over the decade. Crime has grown in tandem. It ranked 30th of the top 100 on the CSI in 1999. It worsened to 23rd in 2004, and five years later it ranks fifth, 68 per cent above the national score.
The oil and related service industries draw a transient workforce: disproportionately foreign or displaced young men, with some Aboriginals from outlying communities and plenty of Newfoundlanders. Most have big incomes and plenty of free time. The city’s rocket-like rise in the crime indices is the classic dark-side-of-the-boom-town story.
The city’s big crime issue this year is a discouragingly familiar one in Alberta. More than 30 young men of Somali descent, most of them “known to police” and hailing from Toronto, have been murdered in Alberta since 2005. In Fort McMurray, two Somali men were found dead in an apartment in February and a third turned up in April. The Alberta government responded by pumping millions into programs targeted at Somali youths, and an 18-member integrated-policing team with its own intelligence unit descended on the area, with the province and the municipality splitting the costs. Almost immediately, the ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams) started vacuuming staggering quantities of coke and pot off the street. The temperature of violence in the city seems to have cooled even as the team finds its feet.
ALERT commander Insp. Bob Simmonds, a member of the RCMP, was stationed in Fort McMurray as a young K Division recruit in the late 1970s. “When I was there the first time, the residential areas didn’t even have names yet—just numbers,” he recalls. “The really big concern we had was fellas coming down into the city from camp, having a few too many and getting a little frisky.”
He is struck now by the “boldness” of many recent crimes and he expects even established “bad guys” are unhappy that the blatant lawlessness has drawn ALERT to town. “They’re probably not too thrilled about the late-arriving outsiders who have attracted attention by committing acts of violence up to and including brazen murder.”
Here is the Letter to the Editor from Mayor Blake in the November 29, 2010 Macleans.