Town of Sylvan Lake officials disagree with Maclean’s dangerous city ranking

Officials with the Town say it is important to contextualize what the statistics actually mean

Based on stats released by Statistics Canada, the Town of Sylvan Lake has been ranked the 29th overall most dangerous city in Canada.

When looking at the increase in reported crimes from the past five years, Sylvan Lake’s rank jumps to the 10th position, according to an article recently released by Maclean’s Magazine.

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Based on the past five years, the Sylvan Lake RCMP have reported an increase in crime within the town limits.

On the Crime Severity Index, which Statistics Canada uses to track changes in the severity of police-reported crime, Sylvan Lake is well above the Canadian average of 70.96, with and average of 123.

However, Sylvan Lake has seen a decrease on violent crime over the last five years. On the Violent Crime Severity Index, Sylvan Lake ranks 105th out of 237 Canadian cities.

While the statistics look bad on the surface Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre says to look a little more deeply at what the stats actually say.

“It is all based on per capita, and the article even says they are basing it on incidents per a population of 100,000 people,” said McIntyre.

He continued to add the population used for Sylvan Lake in the article is out of date. According to the 2016 federal census, Sylvan Lake has a population of 14,816 people, however the article uses an incorrect population number of 14,089.

“The article doesn’t take into consideration the whole picture,” said McIntyre.

Staff Sergeant Andrew Shepherd with the Sylvan Lake RCMP calls the article click bait.

“The headline isn’t very accurate. It says we are 10th on the list but in the article itself it says we are actually 29th,” Shepherd said.

The article and statistic published show the Sylvan Lake RCMP have recorded more arrests over the last five year.

Mayor McIntyre says this is because of a coordinated effort between the municipality and the RCMP.

“We know we in Central Alberta, have been experiencing more crime overall, and we are actively working to combat that,” McIntyre said.

As part of the coordinated effort to combat the rise in crime, Sylvan Lake Town Council supplied the RCMP an additional municipal employee to work in an administrative capacity.

Staff Sgt. Shepherd says the addition employee has help to get officers back out on to the street.

“No one becomes an officer to sit behind a desk… This way we have more officers out on the street doing their job, and that means making arrests,” Shepherd said.

“It’s ironic, the more we are on the street the more arrests we make, which in turns makes us look bad… You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

Both Shepherd and McIntyre also state that crime “has no borders” with local RCMP working more and more often on matters that affect more than just Sylvan Lake.

The Sylvan Lake RCMP are a part of a task force with Red Deer and surrounding communities to minimize the work done by just one detachment.

Shepherd also said the town’s proximity to Red Deer and Hwy. 2 also helps to increase criminal activity.

“We will pick up stolen vehicles with tones stolen mail and driver’s licenses in there that was taken from Grande Prairie,” explained Shepherd. “Criminals are much more mobile and our location near Hwy. 2 makes us a prime drop off point.”

Mayor McIntyre says the Town is advocating to the provincial government for more support for policing, not only in Sylvan Lake but throughout Central Alberta.

“No crime is really ever wanted, but it is important to really contextualize what the information provided by Maclean’s actually means,” McIntyre said.

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