Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jan 2006
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Calgary Herald
Author: Colette Derworiz


State Of City Speech Calls For More Cash

Mayor Dave Bronconnier set his sights on fighting crime Tuesday, 
suggesting the city's growth is leading to higher rates of both petty 
acts such as vandalism and "not so petty" offences involving gangs, 
drugs and weapons.

In his fifth annual state of the city address, Bronconnier said there 
need to be additional resources for emergency services such as 
police, fire and bylaw.

"Calgary is becoming a big city, but that doesn't mean we need to 
accept big city crime," he told the Downtown Rotary Club at the Telus 
Convention Centre. "We can deal with this."

Bronconnier said the city's 2006-08 operating budget adds 120 
positions to the Calgary Police Service, nearly 70 more firefighters 
and extra staff in bylaw services and community support to address 
crime in the city.

However, he said the city needs more money from the provincial 
government in order to deal with the problems before they get out of control.

Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko said later the province is dealing 
with crime by putting more officers on the street and integrating 
police services from across Alberta to better deal with issues such 
as organized crime and drugs.

"There are 200 new officers in the province, which is the largest 
single increase of police manpower in the last 20 years," he said, 
noting 60 of the police officers are dedicated to dealing with organized crime.

Cenaiko said the City of Calgary received an extra $15 million for 
policing last year.

The Calgary-Buffalo MLA noted that as the city's population grows by 
leaps and bounds, not every newcomer is an upstanding citizen.

"We are also attracting those individuals who want to prey on the 
public through criminal activity. . . . We have to get a handle on 
that," he said.

Rotarians and others in attendance at Tuesday's speech said they were 
pleased to hear the mayor focusing on crime and other challenges 
related to the city's growth.

"Whenever you have the type of growth that we've got and the types of 
issues that we've got, you can hide from them and I don't think he 
did," said Ken King, president of the Calgary Flames.

Others said the city needs to look at preventing crime rather than 
just reacting to it.

"I see what's happening in Toronto . . . and I think as a city we 
should be taking some proactive measures to ensure that the same 
level of violence does not repeat itself here," said Charles Pratt, 
president of the Alberta Literacy Foundation.

"Unfortunately, when you have growth, you have a mixture of good and 
bad social issues."

Bronconnier said the city needs to start small to send a message 
crime won't be tolerated.

"Whether it's people begging for money on the street, some 
undesirable activity taking place, garbage, litter, people not 
following the rules, that is starting to escalate," he said. "It's 
our job to curb that behaviour early."

City officials are drafting new bylaws that would deal with public nuisances.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman