Alberta Government – Addressing Rural Crime
On November 6, the Government of Alberta issued a statement regarding their plan to combat rural crime. “The biggest thing we heard is that people want property rights protected. We are talking about good people; law abiding Albertans that have been let down by governments over the years. Changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act and an amendment to the Petty Trespass Act are expected to be made next week. With the clear measures being brought in, trespassers will face serious fines,” said Doug Schweitzer, Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. He noted that civil claims typically have two years to be brought forward, which led them to make the provision retroactive to Jan 1, 2018. He also said that it was an honour to go out and listen to Albertans. Schweitzer also mentioned feeling connected to rural citizens because his grandparents homesteaded in the Peace Country and he still has several family members in rural areas. The government is in the process of creating a Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence Force (RAPID Force) to help reduce response times by expanding the roles and authorities of 400 peace officers in the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the traffic arm of the Alberta Sheriffs. Their statement assures that training and related planning is underway, but won’t be ready until fall 2020.The changes are said to allow these officers to respond to a wider range of calls and to assist the RCMP and other police services in some emergencies. In addition, scrap metal legislation was put into effect and regulations are expected to be in place in spring 2020. In the new year, they will also be offering community impact statements and implement a new restitution recoveries program to help victims. “We’ve heard rural Albertans loud and clear that there is an immense issue with people having been victimized for far too long; to the point it is impacting the mental health of communities. We want to assure them that this is not the end; it’s just the beginning. If you have more suggestions you should continue making them known by contacting your local MLA. I would encourage people to continue to be engaged. We won’t stop again until Albertans feel safe again in their communities,” said Minister Schweitzer who plans to continue listening to Albertans during a follow up across rural Alberta next summer.