In the days leading up to the municipal election on October 16, we will be publishing the answers to questions posed by 2day FM to the candidates running in the City of Grande Prairie. The responses are listed in alphabetical order by position and are unedited. They have not been fact checked and 2day FM is not responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.

Q: What more could be done to address crime in Grande Prairie?

MAYOR

Dick Baillie

A: Our city needs to build morale and awareness to bring back a sense of community among the residents of Grande Prairie. There once was a time people knew all their neighbours; people cared about each other and the place they choose to live. We also know that the people of our great city can accomplish amazing things when they come together, we have witnessed this time and time again when tragedy or crisis strikes. There are ways we can work within our government for this to become a daily thing; that happens even in the absence of crisis.

I also believe that our city needs more affordable extra-curricular activities for our youth. If we can reach our kids at a younger age, and offer worthwhile opportunities, we can hopefully set a precedence of positivity that can carry them through any difficult times. If we can help them find a better path earlier in life they may not be so tempted to do things that hurt their community.

Bill Given

A: Ensuring we have a safe community needs to be at the top of council’s priority list.

To address crime the next council will have to take an approach that considers the whole system to make sure it’s working effectively. That means we need to; work at the neighbourhood level to build strong connections between neighbours; continue our efforts in proactive crime prevention though initiatives like the Safe Growth Matching Grant program; continue to add resources to our RCMP detachment and; advocate to the province for additional crown prosecutors, judges and courtroom space in the city.

All parts of this system need to work together and focusing on just one part won’t get the job done.

Theodore Nikiforuk

A: Develp an economy that is based upon ling term enployment Vrs the boom bust cycle. This creates earning iptiins for people that otherwise might involve themselves in criminal activity.

Rony Pajput

Withdrawn.

COUNCILLORS

Clyde Blackburn

A: I support the city’s choice to increase the number of RCMP members serving the city during the current four-year budget cycle. I believe similar decisions will be necessary as the city continues to grow. I also applaud the concept of increasing clerical staff support so that officers can spend more of their time serving the public.

Dylan Bressey

A: We are in the midst of an opioid crisis. Property crime has affected most of us. Many of the national news stories about Grande Prairie refer to criminal behaviour. Council needs to do what it can to address these problems. I support the continued funding of our drug unit, crime reduction unit, crime analyst, and expanded civilian support positions. We also need to make sure our detachment expands as our population and economy grow.

But policing is only one component of creating a safe community. This is a big reason I am talking about “connection.” It is a vital tool for mental health and crime prevention. People are less likely to get into and more likely to recover from trouble if they are part of a strong community. We have many non-profits doing vital work; they need continued support. Our social problems don’t end or begin at the city’s limits; in addressing them, we need to partner with other municipalities. Finally, Council needs to be out in the community to learn how best to guide and resource our intervention strategies. Connection is vital to community safety and crime prevention. To read more about what I mean by “connection,” check out www.voteBressey.ca/connected

Jackie Clayton

A: I don’t want to turn on the news every spring to hear that Grande Prairie, Alberta is anywhere near the top of the list for crimes in Canada. I don’t want the drug and violence rates to continue to increase, and number of overdoses and fentanyl deaths to climb. Like you, I want future reports to show that the efforts of Council, law enforcement, and our Community demonstrate results in supporting the local RCMP and their efforts to make its City safe. We need to continue to be loud and clear that this is not ok with us.

I have been taking a stance at every opportunity to raise this issue and am fully supportive of the increase of resources to the current RCMP team. This past year, we hired 11 new members, and 4 staff to the admin team to assist with the processing of crime. This in turn allows the members to be on the street more often where they are most needed. We need even more feet on the ground and cars on the road to keep us and our loved ones safe in our homes, in our parks, our schools and on our drives to work and play each day.

In addition to enforcement we need to educate our youth, and our Community about crime in our City. It needs to be an open and honest conversation and lastly, but in some instances, most important, we need to strengthen and grow our Neighbourhood associations. Get out and meet your neighbours, its essential to a safe community.

John Croken

A: I believe we should look at cameras downtown and strategic areas to catch criminals.

Shannon Dunfield

A: It is important that our city is a safe place for our families and businesses. To me, that means looking at all aspects of our enforcement services to ensure we have staffing that is appropriate and needed for the size of our city and regular communication with our community on plans moving forward in how we are keeping our city safe. We all share the responsibility of working to keep our city safe and investing in the communities safety programs like: Citizens on Patrol, Neighborhood Watch, Block Parents, etc is an internal method of keeping community safe.

Sydney Fletcher

A: I think citizens have to change their attitude toward crime and be willing to be involved. You can’t just “pay for someone else to take care of it”. Rural and neighborhood crime watches have worked in the past. Everyone is so fond of social media……let’s start using it to help people become more aware of what’s happening. If we can help, we should!! If we see something happening, we should report it!! Awareness, education and involvement/visibility can all create positive results if taxpayers really want to improve this community. Let’s face it…..the police do an awesome job but they ARE NOT SUPERHEROS!! We all have to be part of the solution, not part of the problem (ie. consider driving more responsibly, to enable the police to focus their time on the more serious crimes! It’s something we can all do that doesn’t require a lot of effort or financial commitment!!)

Eunice Friesen

A: One of my three key values is having a safe community. There’s no question we’ve had some challenging years with high crime and high collision rates. However, these rates have been trending down since reaching alarming levels through increased RCMP staffing and robust prevention programs. I’d like to see the trend continue.

A balanced approach that achieves the goal of a safer city is ideal, and we’ve somehow missed the mark in photo radar use. When the contract is up and if the will is to continue using photo radar, I will stand firm in the primary goal of safety, not revenue, as the goal of its use. The City needs more control over locations (keep to high risk and high collision areas) where safety is a legitimate concern. If reasonable, we should consider outsourcing fewer aspects of the program so that we can retain as much control as possible to meet that end. For example, focusing on locations that are a legitimate safety risk like high collision intersections and high risk areas such as school zones.

The bottom line on the revenue side of photo radar is that the income from it has allowed the city to respond to the alarming crime rate by increasing staff and program resources. Without this income, tax payers would have to bear the brunt of the cost unless another source can be found. Therefore, I’m not prepared to dismiss photo radar completely at this point in time, but I’d like to see improvements in the current program.

John Kriska

A: As a growing city we have growing problems. I believe we have to re-evaluate priorities and the budget to
determine where efficiencies are. We need to find the money to ensure that are emergency services are adequately staffed to ensure the safety of our city.

Kevin McLean

A: The RCMP funding model needs to be changed. We need 30-40 more RCMP.

Yad Minhas

A: More funds need to be allocated to ensure the police force can be expanded to address crime. We must work closely with our municipal neighbours, and all come together to build a safer community — crime has no borders.

Cheryl Montgomery

A: As simple as it sounds, we need to get back to community. We need to have each other’s back and watch out for our neighbours. We need to build stronger neighbourhoods and deal quickly and through the right channels with potential risks to that neighbourhood. We can continue to Police as much as possible, but ultimately they can’t be everywhere all the time. It is our responsibility as concerned citizens to watch out for each other. It is time to get involved and know what is going on in your neighbourhood and help care for each other.

Timothy Nesbitt

A: I fully support the staffing and growth of the RCMP in our region. There is a direct correlation with the drop in crime statistics and the changes the City has implemented in the last 2 years. Grande Prairie is no longer “the most dangerous city” in Canada, but it is going to take an intentional effort to continue down the path in making our city a safer place to live.

While the RCMP are necessary in reducing crime, we as citizens can do our part by simply being more active and invested in each other. Neighborhoods where residents feel isolated or alone have no recourse when they feel threatened. Getting more foot traffic in neighborhoods and neighbors doing things together can do a lot to shake the confidence of someone considering committing a crime. We can accomplish a lot working together.

Kevin O’Toole

A: As luck would have it we are the last or first major city before/ after the B.C. boarder we see a lot of traffic and people in different sectors of crime.

Direction from council was to work with the RCMP and get the resources we need to stop / reduce these concerns in Grande Prairie. Resources include ; drug enforcement, anti-gang violence/ activity units ,white collar crime units, theft investigation, child porn and prostitution we also source certain help from across the B.C. Boarder. Some of these services we acquire are beyond our budgeted complement and some are on loan at a special request these are not permanent positions once again Tax dollars pay for this service.

We also have a mental health team that deals special cases they are on call.

We need more police funding from our province.

Wade Pilat

A: Ideally crime needs to be addressed on a municipal, provincial and federal level. At a local level we need to focus on education and spending resources in the most effective areas. This can be done through increased Bylaw enforcement in various areas of the City, community neighborhood initiatives, as well as ensuring available support systems for people in need. These of course are only a few suggestions, I believe by encouraging suggestions from the community productive solutions can be found.

Tyla Savard

A: Crime has multiple factors contributing to the increased levels, we are a community and region that is growing at such a fast pace that the number of officers we have including overtime does not equate to the ratio of work, it’s a game of catch up where we are forever behind where we need to be. The demand and variance in severity between each matter makes it physically impossible to appropriately give each matter equal attention. We have however been able to make a positive impact with establishing a RCMP Drug Unit that have had some huge successes in their work, they’ve been able to not only catch criminals but connect with multiple demographics in our community in ways the average person wouldn’t have the opportunity to.

Morgan Suurd

A: Bring on a night shift for bylaw officers.

Chris Thiessen

A: City Council invested a lot of time and capital this past term as a priority to keeping our community safe. We added By-law officers and increased RCMP staffing levels by 12 members in our 4-year budget. We then added a full complement of municipal RCMP office workers to help offset reporting times and keep boots on the street. We created a dedicated drug unit to combat the gang issue and educated ourselves and the community to help address the fentanyl crisis.

In alternative strategies, we encouraged connected communities via Neighbourhood Associations and supported the continuance of the Cultural Integration Academy. Through our Crime Prevention Department, we created the “Graffitti Removal”, “Neighbourhood Eye” and “Report a Drug House” programs for residents and Neighbourhood Associations. We created a Minimum Property Standards bylaw. We advocated for change and balance in the Province’s Police Funding Framework, as well as advocated for more Crown Prosecutors in the Region to stop the triaging of criminal prosecutions and help keep the bad guys off the streets.

Moving forward, we need to continue to advocate for a more appropriate number of Crown Prosecutors in our Region and a fairer balance with the Province regarding police funding. I believe we still need more police officers on the streets and would thoughtfully entertain increasing our membership at the next four-year budget. I would like our By-law Officers to put more of a focus on derelict and unkept properties to help clean-up some of our neighbourhoods and promote self-pride in our communities. And finally, we need to continue to be deliberate in our efforts to foster connections in our community through the further development of Neighbourhood Associations, cultural integration programs, and education/awareness campaigns, as positive deterrents to criminal behavior.

Cam White

A: There is no easy solution to crime in GP as with every recession crime appears to increase and then decrease once industry picks up. We live in an interesting ‘work’ driven environment where people (especially young people) are gone for long periods of time with limited time off. This combined with the public’s lack of knowledge on what is happening in Grande Prairie, I believe, has contributed to a heavy amount of drugs and alcohol consumption.

If there was more access to event/program information I believe we would see a reduction in crime.

People are cramped up inside all winter and we need to help them get out of the house, I believe this is where the city comes in. The city needs to become the central Hub of anything Grande Prairie; events, activities, programs, lessons, policies, etc. Let’s reconnect with the people of Grande Prairie and make them feel valued and I believe we will see a reduction in crime.

Mike Wolfel

No response submitted.