Red Deer focuses on 5 social issues raised by public

The five most talked about actions suggested to the City of Red Deer on tackling crime included property crime, personal and community safety, justice and enforcement, addictions and substance abuse, and business and economic impact.

The city’s initiatives have targeted these areas of public concern.

Increased security and monitoring: In April, at the beginning of the pandemic response, the city worked with local security companies to patrol business and industrial areas. Many businesses were closed until Stage 2 of the Alberta Relaunch Strategy, and having extra eyes in these vacated areas helped to deter potential thieves.

Increased community/public events downtown: Amid pandemic restrictions, the city was able to safely open the Ross Street patio for an extended season this year. For the first time ever, the patio remained open past October and remains open through the winter, allowing businesses the opportunity to ensure physical distancing for their patrons, while also offering a safe and inviting destination space in the downtown.

With the pandemic, many annual events shifted online, including the recovered bike auction. In June, hundreds of recovered bikes that unfortunately could not be reunited with their owners were put up for online auction. The city helped the new owners sign up their rides with 529 Garage, a free online bike registry, when they picked up their bikes at the Culture Services Centre, downtown.

Increased policing/bylaws: Throughout the pandemic, with the use of intelligence-led policing, police shifted their proactive patrols to areas of the city that could be targeted for crime. Taking a look at the five-year trajectory of crime in Red Deer, the numbers have been decreasing, with property crimes down 35 per cent from 2016.

The city is exploring new and enhanced bylaws to respond to disruptive behaviours and we expect to be able to share more in early 2021.

Increased advocacy: Over the past year the city advocated to other orders of government on several initiatives related to justice and treatment. As a result of these efforts, the province has committed funding for a drug treatment court, 24-7 integrated shelter and an addictions treatment centre.

In September, ground broke on the new Justice Centre , which is under construction on the corner of 48 Ave. and 49. Mayor Veer and Central Alberta Mayors were also successful in their request for securing additional crown prosecutors for the region, which will see increased efficiency in the local judicial system.

Increased communication: The city continues to encourage residents to participate in a number of crime prevention initiatives. These include 529 Garage (free online bike registry), registering their security cameras with CAPTURE, and reporting crimes to police (no matter how small they may seem).

More information on these initiatives is available at reddeer.ca 

Increased Lighting: Many residents requested additional lighting on trails, and this was explored from a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) lens.

In many instances, CPTED does identify lighting as a measure to improve safety, however, trails that are located within or adjacent to forested areas actually become less safe when lighting is added.

Throughout the pandemic the has seen up to a 50 per cent increase in trail use across the city. More people using public spaces leads to increased safety, and with enhanced trail clearing and traction control happening in the park system this winter, there has never been a better time to enjoy the trails.

Increased Business Incentive Program: This year, the city implemented new initiatives to support businesses including rebates for facade and storefront enhancements, and demolitions of vacant and derelict properties. The city is exploring other options, such as additional supports for graffiti removal.