At the end of 2011, Edmonton’s crime rate was making national headlines because of a spike in homicides – a record 50 that year for the city and surrounding areas. And though that number looks to be an anomaly, at least based on what we’re seeing in 2012 and in previous years, we take the stance that a single homicide is one too many.
That’s why the theme of our annual Big Idea issue for 2012 is “Making Edmonton Safer.”
In the following pages, we’ve taken a non-reactionary, analytical look at what we can do to improve our communities, from brighter streets to better transportation, and examined how these initiatives can also reduce crime.
While homicides dominate the headlines, the crime rate as a whole is concerning. Edmonton is a fast-growing, economically powerful city. But, of Canada’s 33 major metropolitan areas, Statistics Canada puts our crime rate at the seventh highest – 6,943 crimes per 100,000 people in 2011. Now, to be fair, the amount of violent crime and serious property offences comes to a total of just more than 800 per 100,000 people. The wide majority of crimes are minor offences, but we’re not off the hook either; big, bad Metro Toronto’s crime rate was half that of ours, at 3,382 per 100,000.
We know we can do better. The question is how?
We sent our writers out to speak to politicians, police and community officials to find out and get the story behind the stories. Not only did we reach out to community leaders and experts, we looked to another special group of people: Our Top 40 Under 40 alumni. In April, we held a luncheon where we brought together the brain trust and asked them to consider what they would do to make Edmonton a safer place to live. They gave us useful feedback, some of which inspired the stories you’ll read in the coming pages.
And, you’ll also see that making Edmonton safer isn’t just a police duty. There’s a lot that the average resident and business owner can do as well.