Boarded up windows and unkempt properties is a sight you can find in some select areas of the town of Fort MacLeod.
Chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said the rundown properties are often associated with crime, saying, “We have had some on going issues here in the last four or five years, crime is on the rise, there’s no question about that.”
The town has created the Safe Communities Task Force to combat the growing issues in the community. It’s made up of representatives from Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods, Alberta Health Services, the Crime Prevention Advisory Committee, Family and Community Support Services, the town bylaw officer and other town officials including Keenan and the RCMP.
“Bringing all those things together is crucial because we can all feed off each other, share information, and identify how we might tackle a certain problem,” said Sgt. Bryan Mucha of the Fort Macleod RCMP.
Frustrated residents voiced concerns to the town, and Keenan said many of the problem properties aren’t owned by local residents. There is now a new bylaw on it’s way to help with the issue.
“It’s a community standards bylaw that will give us a little more authority and a little more leverage with going after those delinquent home owners and people that don’t actually live here, have property here, are renting it out,” she added.
Sgt. Mucha said the town has been dealing with a growing drug problem with methamphetamine and opioid use, which has lead to an increase in overall criminal activity.
“We have people who are trying to live there lives, and in order to live there lives, they are not working, potentially crime occurs and property thefts are on the rise,” he added.
Keenan said the message the task for has is clear, “There’s no room for crime in the town of Fort Macleod, and we are as a collective group of inter-agencies, going to come after you with everything that we have. This is not the place for you, this is a family oriented town and we want to keep it that way.”