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Concerns over rural crime

Posted on March 1, 2018 by Vauxhall Advance

The Legislative Assembly is set to return for the spring session with the Speech from the Throne on March 8. I, along with all Opposition MLA’s, look forward to getting back to debate not only the new legislation, but to engage Ministers on issues affecting all our constituents.

One of the primary issues affecting all rural ridings is crime. On November 27 of last year, your Official Opposition dedicated an entire Question Period session to the subject. The gallery was full of folks from rural Alberta who had been affected by rural crime and every question by Opposition members was asked to the Minister of Justice.

The answers given gave little comfort to the folks who came to the Legislature that day. We even put forward a motion asking for an emergency debate on the issue, which was subsequently turned down by the Government.

We are very aware of the fact that there are increased break-ins, vehicle thefts and other property crimes that are beginning to make rural residents feel legitimately frustrated and worried.

For a very long time, rural Albertans were somewhat spared the scourge of organized criminal activity by virtue of geography alone.

We didn’t feel that we needed to do things like lock doors on our houses or workshops, or take keys out of vehicles that sit in our yards. In the past, we have just felt safe. This was a feature of life in rural Alberta. But it is apparent that those times have come to an end.

Our rural riding of Little Bow is served by seven RCMP detachments, and yet rural incidents of crime continue to increase. But is it entirely the fault of the police that we are beginning to see more crime where we live? I don’t think so. I acknowledge that the RCMP have only so many resources at their disposal and only so many staff to patrol their area.

There are many other variables that come into play with this issue, such as the opioid crisis and the economy.

MP’s and MLA’s have started holding Town Halls in their rural ridings to hear the stories and complaints of constituents with regard to crime. Many of these meetings have RCMP officers in attendance, as well as other stakeholders such as Range Patrol, Citizens on Patrol and Rural Crime Watch, etc.,

My office will be holding a Rural Crime Town Hall meeting at 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 10, 2017 at the Community Hall in Nobleford.

Everyone concerned about the issue is invited to attend. We will make every effort to have any/all of the groups mentioned above represented.

Please contact my office by phone at 1-800-563-0917 or email to register in advance or if you would like more information. However, please attend even if you have not registered as everyone is welcome and this is an issue that affects all of us. Rural life is changing.

The good news is that our communities are taking more ownership of the situation. We need to take the proverbial bull by the horns and be proactive in the prevention of crime. Let’s have a fulsome discussion about it in Nobleford on March 10.

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