A motion to create a working group targeting the rising crime levels in Prince Albert passed during Monday’s City Council meeting, with hopes it will find solutions to make residents and visitors feel safer in the community.
Coun. Blake Edwards said the issues of violent crime, substance abuse, and aggressive loitering in the City needs to be dealt with immediately due to the offender’s escalating nature.
“It’s a problem that is not going away,” Edwards said.
“Some people are losing sleep at night because the people that once upon a time checked the door handles to our cars are checking the door handles to our homes.”
Several members of Council suggested holding off the motion until after the next meeting, when researcher Chad Nilson will give a presentation on the City’s homeless crisis. However, Edwards said the homeless population are not committing most of the crime. He blamed it on gang activity instead.
The City will extend invitations to Federal and Provincial leaders, representatives from the Board of Police Commissioners, Metis Nation — Saskatchewan, the FSIN, the PAGC, and leadership from local First Nations to join the working group and come up with solutions to deal with the rising crime levels in Prince Albert.
“[It] cannot just be City Council or the Mayor,” Edwards said. “We have to work together to address these issues that are negatively affecting our residents and people visiting our community.”
Coun. Tony Head, who is a part of a local neighbourhood watch, seconded the motion and gave his full support to Edwards.
“My residents and constituents are frustrated,” Head explained. “Every morning I see some of these things that have transpired in the neighbourhoods and it has to stop.”
Edwards added that society should not have to accept the rise in violent crime as the new normal.
“I have hope that our kids can head to the convenience store and parents don’t have to be worried,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe I’m dreaming.”
Following a lengthy discussion involving several members of Council, Edwards’ motion passed unanimously. Plans to explore solutions with other organizations will soon be underway.
Monthly crime statistics published by the Prince Albert Police Service show a 44 per cent year-over-year increase in violent crime as of the end of April. Year-over-year property crime has increased by nine per cent during that same time, including a 42.5 per cent increase in residential break-and-enters.
Total criminal offences across all areas are up 16 per cent, although total controlled drugs and substances offences are actually down 72.5 per cent.