Banff residents ask for clearer communication with RCMP

Banff RCMP host a town hall meeting for residents, after two violent crimes shocked the community.  (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
Banff RCMP host a town hall meeting for residents, after two violent crimes shocked the community. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

Town of Banff councillors, officials and residents met to have a town hall discussion hosted by RCMP about policing and safety in the mountain town.

Tragedy struck the town twice this summer after two people were fatally stabbed in two separate and unrelated altercations less than a month apart. They were the first homicides seen in the resort town in decades.

It has left the town shaken, with some fearful of walking home at night.

"I think a lot of healing still has to happen for our community" said Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno. "There's still a lot of concerns and passion around this topic."

She says the town is working with the community and partner organisations to strengthen a sense of safety in the town. She's invested in listening to residents' concerns.

Staff Sgt. Mike Buxton-Carr, Banff's RCMP detachment commander, told the crowd gathered in the Banff Elementary School gym that the incidents didn't just shake residents — they came as a shock to police as well.

"Our officers felt frustration that they were present and actively working within 100 metres of where the offence happened, for both altercations," Buxton-Carr said.

"While that was suitable for them to make an immediate response, and safely arrest people responsible and prevent further harm, it affected them that they weren't able to prevent that simply by being in the vicinity."

Here's an overview of each incident, according to RCMP:

  • Just before 2:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug 5, police were called to Banff Avenue, in front of the Dancing Sasquatch. A 26-year-old injured man was rushed to hospital, where he was declared deceased. Police took a 22-year-old man into custody at the scene.

  • Shortly after midnight on Saturday, Sept. 3, RCMP responded to a 911 call that a man had been stabbed during an altercation in front of the Dancing Sasquatch. Police took two men into custody at a nearby location.

Police stressed that these two incidents weren't linked or related and assured residents that there were no safety concerns to the general public.

Both matters are now before the courts.

Buxton-Carr explained to residents that despite this summer's two violent crimes, the town is safe, especially given the number of visitors they see in the summer months.

Residents asked questions, many raising concerns and lack of clarity on whether crime has increased since before the pandemic, and year-over-year.

There were several calls for more transparency and a clearer flow of information between residents and police, which Buxton-Carr said was his main takeaway.

"There's a need for a discussion on how we can enhance the public's perception of safety," he said.

RCMP say they plan to do more of these town halls to keep the lines of communication open for residents.