The City of Cold Lake is dangerous, at least that’s what Maclean’s Magazine is saying.
According to the magazine, the City of Cold Lake ranks 21 on the list of 229 cities across Canada on their most recent list of “Canada’s Most Dangerous Places.”
The report ranks communities, with populations of over 10,000, according to their Crime Severity Index (CSI), a Statistics Canada measurement of all police-reported crime. It takes into consideration both the volume and seriousness of offences. Using 2016 data, which was the most current available at the time of the study, Maclean’s compares it to their 2006 benchmark, and this year, Cold Lake has been named number 21.
According to the report, Cold Lake’s CSI in 2016 was 131, which is about 60 higher than the Canadian average. When it comes to violent crime, the city is only about 24 higher than the national index with 91.
“The list is interesting… It’s a wide net of all of the crime statistics. It makes Cold Lake and area – because the geographical area of the Cold Lake RCMP is quite big, that factors in the rural and urban statistics – us look a lot worse than we really are,” expressed Mayor Craig Copeland.
The city, which has a population of 14,979 according to Stats Canada, is well below the number one ranking community of North Battleford, SK, which has a CSI of 353, and a Violent Crime Severity Index of 337.
“Unfortunately, we’re the highest in north eastern Alberta, but some of the other communities are still quite ahead of us, like Grande Prairie and Red Deer,” Copeland noted. “A lot of rural communities were the top communities across Canada, which is bizarre.”
When it comes to Cold Lake, Copeland wasn’t surprised to see the city saw an increase in crime over the years.
A factor that could “skew the results,” Copeland said, was simply good police work.
“Cold Lake has put resources into the RCMP – including a police dog, watch clerks, and adding the General Investigation Section (GIS)… The extra resources, plus the dedication of our local members, has led to positive results in terms of the arrests made, often with a focus on repeat offenders.”
He continued, “Crime is an issue province-wide, and Cold Lake has made commitments that will benefit not only our residents, but the entire region.”
Since 2006, the City of Cold Lake saw an increase in sexual assaults, firearms offences, breaking and entering cases, cannabis trafficking or production, and cocaine and other trafficking or production charges.
But the city isn’t only seeing a rise in certain offences. Since 2006, there has been a drop in the number of impaired driving offences, robbery, assault, and youth cases.
Copeland said the issue isn’t something “that we’re proud of.”
“We have a lot of crime in terms of the theft of vehicles, break and enters, and thefts, but I still think a lot of it has to do with the economy right now. A lot of people are out of work,” explained Copeland.
But regardless of the hurdles before them, the city is passionate about tackling local crime.
“The RCMP are doing a great job of trying to catch everyone. Citizens are becoming more aware of the need to report. We’re going to continue to work with the RCMP, that’s one of the reasons why we funded the dog program,” said Copeland. “It’s still a big issue in council that we’re trying to address and improve the safety of everybody.”