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Safe Communities Task Force to begin work

Fort Macleod’s new Safe Communities Task Force begins its work early next month.

Town council last week heard a report on the task force’s membership and plans for its first meeting in June

“For the last few months we’ve been dealing with a significant increase in crime in the Town of Fort Macleod as well as what I term delinquent housing,” Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said.

Keenan made a presentation to council on the Safe Communities Task Force at the May 25 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building.

The task force will unify efforts to reduce crime and address delinquent land owners.

Also in the task force’s crosshairs are squatters, panhandlers and “slum lords.”

“I applaud administration with their initiative in putting together this group and seeking to address these issues,” Coun. David Orr said. “Clearly we want to address that, we want to have a safer community.”

“There are pockets of issues in the town and I think taking this broader approach is the best chance that we have to those in a meaningful way.”

Creation of the task force was prompted by ongoing crime and drug issues in Fort Macleod, as well as land owners abandoning properties that become drug house.

“It’s my opinion that we should create a task force that deals with our safe community,” Keenan said.

The idea of a task force gained momentum following a drug bust at a residence on 11th Street.

Keenan said law enforcement and by-law officials supported the creation of a task force to target crime and delinquent land owners who abandon property and don’t pay taxes.

Keenan said the task force members are predominantly involved with law and by-law enforcement.

“We do have a vast array of key stakeholders who have agreed to sit on that task force,” Keenan told council.

The stakeholders who will set on the task force include:

• Sgt. Bryan Mucha or Cpl. Paul Bedard of Fort Macleod RCMP.

• Glenn Stuart of Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods.

• Robert Rippin of Alberta Health Services.

• Nicole Paggett, building codes contractor.

• Conrad Van Hierden, Fort Macleod Crime Prevention Advisory Committee.

• Angie O’Connor, of Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services and the Affordable Housing Committee.

• Town of Fort Macleod by-law officer Wes Noble.

• Sue Keenan, chief administrative officer of the Town of Fort Macleod.

Legal counsel will be appointed to the task force in future.

Coun. Kristi Edwards supported the establishment of the task force, noting crime in Fort Macleod is on the minds of many people.

Coun. Werner Dressler agreed.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” Dressler said.

Council decided it was not necessary to have one of its members appointed to the task force.

“Obviously there will be initiatives that will come back to council that will need our input,” Orr said. “I have no concerns about being kept apprised of what is being presented by the committee.”

Keenan said Fort Macleod residents have been providing input on criminal activity, something that has to continue.

“We need everybody’s collective voice in this community to get on top of this,” Keenan said. “We cannot do it on our own.”

The task force, which must be kept informed in order to address emergent issues, will determine the best way for information to be shared.

The message to drug dealers, delinquent land owners and others will be clear, Keenan said.

“Enough is enough,” Keenan explained. “We are going to put things in place that are going to be financially punitive or people are going to go to jail.”

Keenan said council will be kept up to date on the task force’s work. Some of those updates will be related to enforcement initiatives and will be discussed in closed session.

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