Crime is increasingly on the minds of Red Deer residents, the City of Red Deer’s 2016 Citizen Satisfaction Survey shows.
The survey, which cost $21,500 and was released on Monday, shows that 28 per cent of those surveyed named crime as top-of-mind and the most important issue facing the community. That compares with 25 per cent in 2015 and 22 per cent in 2014.
Crime also became the top priority this year when respondents were asked what were the top three priorities they felt the city should address over the next 12 months.
Those top three priorities are crime (38 per cent); transportation (32 per cent); and municipal government services (26 per cent).
Crime surpassed last year’s top three — where transportation came in as tops in the May 2015 satisfaction survey — 22 per cent compared with second place crime at 18 per cent.
The survey helps the city identify where it can improve service levels and determine priorities.
This year is the first time crime has been the top priority, city manager Craig Curtis said. The city has been doing the satisfaction surveys since 2006.
“Obviously there is a crime issue in the community that has been on the rise. Of course, it’s on the rise in Alberta as a whole and the country.”
“We’re also high in relation to some similar communities and I think that people have become more aware of those (crime) statistics and have become concerned regarding them.”
Recent Statistics Canada numbers show that Red Deer is the second worst city for crime in Canada, and the most likely city to have your home broken into, and the fifth where people are most likely to be robbed.
Safety is not just policing issue, Curtis said. It’s also an addictions (health) issue, and a housing (social) social issue, he said.
“Obviously it’s something that needs to be looked at from the crime reduction strategy as well. It’s something we have to deal with as a community but it’s broader than just policing,” Curtis said, noting that noting that Red Deer does not have an addictions treatment centre.
Mayor Tara Veer said crime becoming the number one priority is probably partially driven by the reduction in concern about transportation, in particular relating to snow and ice control.
With crime being the number one priority, the city needs to be responsive in the coming year, she said.
On Thursday Red Deer RCMP will be outline the impact its new crime reduction strategy has had since it came into affect on April 1, along with crime statistics for the second quarter.
The worsening economy is reflected in the 2016 satisfaction survey when compared to 2015.
The top reasons people think that quality of life in Red Deer has worsened are crime/public safety/policing (43 per cent) followed by the poor economy (31 per cent) and unemployment/loss of jobs/low wages (21 per cent).
Last December crime/public safety/policing was 38 per cent, the poor economy was 21 per cent and unemployment/loss of jobs/low wages was at nine per cent.
On a brighter note, 98 per cent of respondents to the city’s satisfaction survey say the quality of life in River City is either good or very good. That breaks down to “good” at 59 per cent and “very good” at 39 per cent.
The survey was conducted by Ipsos from July 8 to 31 with 300 randomly selected Red Deer residents, ages 18 or older. The results are accurate plus or minus 5.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.