North Battleford’s mayor is welcoming the focus on his community after Maclean’s Magazine labelled them “Canada’s most dangerous place.”
Ryan Bater told 650 CKOM Friday the national publication’s reporter Jason Markusoff was welcomed by the city to talk about their struggles with crime.
“We voluntarily participated,” Bater said.”We wanted to take that opportunity to highlight the work that we’re doing, but also to call some attention to senior levels of government on the challenges we face.”
Statistics Canada’s annual crime severity index (CSI) ratings released in July showed North Battleford topping population centres of 10,000 or more. Their rating was nearly double Saskatchewan’s provincial CSI.
Bater said they’ve been working on community safety initiatives to try and bring their ratings down, including providing residents with motion-detecting lights and encouraging people to lock their homes and vehicles.
However, he notes some of the core issues at the root of North Battleford’s battle with crime needs to be addressed by the provincial and federal governments.
“Anti-social negative behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues. All of these are either a provincial or federal responsibility,” he said.
“What we really need is for them to align their policies and programs with our local and regional needs.”
Bater added he believes crime has become a large problem for the city because it serves as an urban hub for northwestern Saskatchewan. He said a “transient population” comes into the city, where their crimes “play out on the streets.”
He’s hoping the Maclean’s article is perfectly timed given the current political races in the area.
A byelection is being held on Dec. 11 to replace retiring Conservative MP Gerry Ritz, while leadership races are being held for both the Sask. Party and provincial NDP.
“It’s important that all of them give some thought to how they would be aligning government with the efforts that exist,” Bater said.
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Carr.