The City of Langley is the sixth ‘most dangerous’ community in Canada, according to rankings released this week by Maclean’s magazine.
However, the unfavourable position appears to have been earned largely due to the prevalence of property crime in the City, as opposed to incidents of violence.
Using Stats Canada’s Crime Severity Index, the national newsmagazine compiled data on 229 Canadian cities with a population of 10,000 or more, and ranked them according to the commission rate of several different types of crime, including violent crime, homicide, sexual assault, firearms offences, robbery, break and enter, impaired driving, drug offences and fraud.
The data was gathered in 2016 and is a measure of all police-reported crime.
The City of Langley ranked number 6 overall in Canada and second in B.C. (Williams Lake sits in the number 4 spot nationally) for “all crime” with a Crime Severity Index (CSI) of 195.
By comparison, the most ‘dangerous’ city, North Battleford, Sask., has a CSI of 353, while the Kennebecasis Region of New Brunswick fared best with a CSI of 16.
The CSI “takes into consideration both the volume and seriousness of the crime,” according to the magazine.
Where the City fared worst was in the category of break and enter, where it ranked third in Canada and first in B.C.
For robbery, the City was ranked fifth in Canada; second in B.C.
For trafficking of “other” drugs (not including cannabis and cocaine) the City ranked fourth.
Although the City was ranked 15th in Canada for violent crime, a breakdown of the categories shows it ranked 27th for homicide (one actual homicide) based on rates per 100,000 people. The City’s population is listed in the study at 27,834.
City mayor Ted Schaffer wasn’t overly surprised by the ranking, acknowledging there are a number of issues facing the community. But efforts are being made to address them, he said.
“The City has been putting a lot of time and money (into crime prevention) and we’re seeing changes for the positive,” Schaffer said.
Nearly half (46 per cent) of the City’s annual budget goes toward policing. The municipality employs three full-time bylaw officers and has also hired security to patrol the downtown area at night.
The City has also struck a crime prevention task force as well as a homelessness task force, Schaffer noted.
However, there is only so much a local government can do,” he said.
Social issues, including drug use and mental health problems, are on the rise everywhere and with so many social services located in the City, it’s to be expected that there will be an influx of people who require those services, he said.
“There is a bad element that preys on people who have those issues and (the problem) compounds itself.”
A municipality’s mandate was traditionally to fund roads, water and sewer, said Schaffer, but in recent years more responsibilities have been downloaded from higher levels of government.
“We understand there are issues out there, but we need help from the province and the feds,” he said.
“It’s not like the City isn’t aware or working hard, but sooner or later the province has to step up.”
For other measured crime, the City ranked as follows:
• Sexual assault — 45th
• Assaults — 72nd
• Firearms offences — 30th
• Cannabis trafficking — 7th
• Cocaine trafficking — 35th
• Fraud — 12th
• Impaired driving — 67th
• Youth crime — 144th
By comparison the Township of Langley ranked 46th out of 229 cities in Canada for “all crime.”
For individual categories, it ranked as follows:
• Violent crime — 117th
• Homicide (two actual) — 59th
• Sexual Assault — 199th
• Assault — 196th
• Firearms offences — 86th
• Robbery — 56th
• Break and Enter — 17th
• Fraud — 49th
• Impaired Driving —151st
• Trafficking — Cannabis — 106th; Cocaine — 132nd; Other drugs —101st
• Youth Crime —158th
The Township’s population listed at 114,940.