by Colin Smith
With crime on the rise, Morinville is among the top 20 per cent of the country’s most crime-ridden communities.
At least according to the Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019 feature in the November 5 Maclean’s, which ranks 237 communities across the provinces on the incidence of crime.
Run annually in the magazine, this year the feature gave particular prominence to rises in crime over the past several years.
Morinville Detachment is ranked as having the 46th greatest rise in crime. While the number one spot in the country goes to Wetaskiwin.
Be that as it may, it seems most Morinville residents have a different view of how dangerous the town is.
“Our own survey of residents clearly indicates that Morinville residents consider the community safe,” said Mayor Barry Turner. “Morinville is a safe community; our residents consider it a safe community.”
Morinville is a safe place to live was agreed to by about 80 per cent of people canvassed in the 2018 Resident Survey done for the Town earlier this year by Banister Research Ltd.
The survey, results of which were reported in June, also found that about 70 per cent of respondents were happy with the policing services provided by the Morinville RCMP Detachment.
Although the report authors noted that people who had lived in Morinville for 10 years or less were significantly more likely to agree that Morinville is a safe place to live than longer-term residents.
“I think the title of the feature, Canada’s Most Dangerous Places, is a way of making this ranking seem much more fearful than it actually is,” Turner said. “It triggers the thought that changes in crime rates make a community a dangerous place. Crime rates may change over time, however, a change in rates does not make a community dangerous.”
He added that it would take a very significant increase in crime in Morinville to change the current perception of it as a safe community.
“We receive quarterly updates from our RCMP detachment, including reports on crime rates and have not been informed of any alarming concerns from our law enforcement professionals.”
The Maclean’s rankings are based on the Crime Severity Index, a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, and its Violent Crime Severity Index, using 2017 data released in July. This data was compared to figures from 2012.
Morinville’s Crime Severity Index is up about 11.5 points to 78 from 66.51, giving it an overall Crime Severity ranking of 87. The Canadian Crime Severity Index average is 70.96.
As for violent crime goes, the town’s ranking is 40th out of 237, with a Violent Crime Severity Index of 100 versus the Canadian average of 75.25.
The fact that the actual crime numbers in Morinville and other smaller communities are low can lead to a distorted picture when interpreted statistically.
For example, the one incident of homicide that took place in the Detachment area in 2017 gave it a homicide rate of 9.64 per 100,000 population, five times the Canadian average, and a Maclean’s ranking of seventh highest homicide rate in the country.
Whitecourt, with a similar population, had no homicides last year and so received a ranking of 237th.
Actual numbers of other crimes included in the Crime Severity Index that were reported in the Morinville Detachment last year are: Assault, 39; Sexual Assault, 7; Firearms Offences, 1; Robbery, 5; Breaking & Entering, 46; Fraud, 38; Impaired Driving, 19; Cannabis Trafficking or Production, 3; Cocaine Trafficking or Production, 0; Other Controlled Drugs, Trafficking or Production, 0; Youth Criminal Justice Act Offences, 5.
Incidence of these offences was below the national average, except for Breaking & Entering, Fraud and Youth Criminal Justice Act Offences.