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OPINION: Providing purpose to citizens could improve crime rates

Lacombe recently ranked favorably in MacLean’s magazine’s annual Canada’s Most Dangerous Places

There is still more work to do – socially.

Lacombe recently ranked favorably in MacLean’s magazine’s annual Canada’s Most Dangerous Places list, landing 77th out of 237 communities across the country.

This was in stark contrast to many Central Alberta neighboring communities, such as Red Deer and Wetaskwin which both ranked in the Top 10.

These rankings stem from a high property crime rate, with the majority of Albertan communities thankfully having very low violent crime statistics.

This brings into question the term ‘dangerous’ used by the magazine’s publishers. Property crimes are not by definition inherently dangerous to individuals, although they do have the potential to be — but the term is likely used to drive readership.

I digress…the point is to give kudos for those who protect this city — including the Lacombe Police Service (LPS), Bylaw enforcement and social agencies — but it is important to remember that there are many other communities more safe than Lacombe.

LPS Chief Lorne Blumhagen recently said the goal for his department is to work towards Lacombe being the safest community in Canada.

Obviously policing plays a huge role in reaching that goal, but the onus is also on us to find the roots of crime — with a major factor being social inequities.

This province recently went through one of the most drastic recessions in living memory, which pushed many well-paid jobs out of the market. While that recession is slowly receding, there are several other market factors at play that will continue to change the makeup of the Albertan economy.

Diversification, less dependence on oil and gas products, automation, climate change and more high-skilled jobs in the economy mean that Albertans are shifting to meet the new needs of the 21st century.

The people that are being left behind by a changing economy are typically those who may resort to crime to make ends meet.

This means that it is up to everyone to create a social safety net that not only provides services, access to training, funding and employment opportunities — but also, more importantly, hope for those enduring the hardships of poverty and despair.

A roaring economy would obviously help the people on the fringes of success, but in the absence of that, it is our job to provide people hope and purpose.

Everyone in society needs food, water and shelter – all of which we can provide through improved social charity and social programming. What we need to do further is give people purpose in our society.

If people have their basic needs along with true purpose, they will less likely commit crime and Lacombe — and Central Alberta — can be safer for everyone.