When Alberta’s provincial association for Rural Crime Watch groups was looking for a host community, Central Alberta members did not hesitate to step up.
Red Deer and Lacombe County Rural Crime Watch president Ken Wigmore said it is an issue that he hears about almost daily.
On Tuesday, he was at an unrelated safety codes conference when he asked other attendees if they had any rural crime experiences. Everyone had a story.
Asked if he hopes hosting the provincial association’s annual general meeting and symposium on Feb. 16-17 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre will provide an opportunity to highlight Central Alberta’s problems, he says, “I certainly hope so.”
Central Alberta MLAs and MPs are hearing plenty about rural crime at various town hall meetings held over the last few weeks. Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins is part his party’s Rural Alberta Crime Task Force.
Local MLAs from both sides of the aisle and municipal council members have been regular attendees at gatherings to discuss the issue.
“The (rural crime meetings) are going on all over the province and they’re getting huge turnouts,” said Wigmore.
Lacombe County council, of which Wigmore is a member, voted last week to ask the Central Zone of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties to ensure rural crime is on its Feb. 5 meeting agenda.
It is expected a rural crime resolution calling for a provincial strategy will be taken to the association’s provincial body to be discussed at its next annual general meeting.
Later this month, acting Justice Minister Marlin Schmidt, will be in Red Deer to talk rural crime with area representatives at an invitation-only meeting, said Wigmore.
There is plenty of frustration in rural Alberta and many people want to see repeat offenders kept in prison longer to try to break the cycle.
In Central Alberta, rural crime associations have tried to educate residents on how to protect themselves and their neighbours, he said.
“I think the police are doing their best, but they can’t be everywhere.”
Keynote speaker at the Rural Crime Watch annual general meeting will be Christiane Sadeler, from Ontario’s Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. His speech is billed as “Crime Prevention in the Rural Environment.”
The Lacombe gatherings begins with a meet and greet beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday. The main meeting gets underway at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday with Sadeler speaking at 10 a.m.
The conference costs $100 and is open to the public. There are $50 tickets available to those wishing to attend only a portion. To register go to: www.ruralcrimewatch.ab.ca