Is the Wild West back? If a comparative report by Maclean’s magazine, using Statistics Canada numbers and law enforcement figures, is any indication, Alberta was the most murderous province in Canada in 2011.
In the national magazine’s Canada's Most Dangerous Cities feature released earlier this week, Red Deer is named number one with the highest homicide rate in Canada, with 6.4 incidents of homicides per 100,000 residents, while two other Alberta municipalities made the top 10, more than any other province in the country.
“Five homicides occurred in Red Deer between 2006 and 2010,” states Maclean’s.
“The local paper noted that overall crime in the area has dropped since 2004, but stressed the importance of improving social services.”
The other two Alberta cities to make the top 10 list are Edmonton, which had an unusually violent year in 2011, and Wood Buffalo – the greater municipal area that encompasses Fort McMurray, the heart of Canada’s economic juggernaut, the oilsands – in number six.
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Using census data and crime stats, the magazine works out ratios encompassing incidents of crime per 100,000 residents in a given city and compiles the results into the annual lists.
Officials in Grande Prairie, which didn’t make the top 10 in the homicides list but who were given the dubious distinction of being the seventh most dangerous city in Canada by the Maclean's survey, said earlier this week the study can’t take into account the full reality of what is going on in cities like Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray.
Due to the gigantic operations at the oilsands mines and the thousands of gas wells in the area, the two cities have enormous “shadow populations” that keep those massive energy projects pumping, RCMP Supt. Ray Noble told the Huffington Post.
The energy industry is powered by migrant workers who aren’t always counted by the census. There are also many workers who call other Alberta cities home but who spend three quarters of the year in Grande Prairie or Fort McMurray. There is also a a huge number of oil and gas workers who are constantly in transit through the area, said Noble.
Thus, the real number of people in Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray at any given moment is much larger than the survey allows for, he said.
The three Alberta cities – Edmonton, Wood Buffalo, Red Deer - also made the top 10 cities in Canada for highest rates of aggravated assault.