Coaldale considered one of the safest municipalities in Alberta

While some communities are plagued with high crime rates, violence and restless nights, one nearby community can sleep soundly.

Between 2018 and 2022, the most recent numbers available, Coaldale has been the safest community of its size in Alberta, based on the crime severity index (CSI) by Statistics Canada.

With its score being just 52.4 on average in that timespan, Coaldale sits a full 71 points lower than the group average. The group in question includes municipalities of a similar size, as well as neighbouring communities such as Lethbridge.

The highest rate was Ponoka at 185.7, while the nearest to Coaldale was Blackfalds with a 71.7.

Jonathan Wensveen, manager of government relations with the Town of Coaldale, says this CSI score is made possible due to several factors, including safe-minded residents.

“We have a local citizens on patrol association up and running now in Coaldale,” said Wensveen.

“So, I think that helps supplement the RCMP in keeping the (CSI) low. It’s more of a collective effort than anything.”

He says the impact of a low CSI goes beyond residents staying safe, though that is the most important thing.

“We know there’s a correlation between crime severity and it’s impact on property values, for instance, or even on population growth… it’s obviously something people look at when deciding to move to a community.”

While growth and crime tend to go hand in hand, Wensveen says Coaldale is not looking at a drastic increase in population, so the CSI score should remain low for the foreseeable future.

“While we are growing, I don’t think we’re growing at a fast enough rate to see any giant change in the (CSI) score in the near (future).”

Wensveen says a big part of Coaldale’s success in terms of safety comes from the demographic of residents.

“It’s a community primarily composed of young families,” said Wensveen. “A lot of neighbours look out for each other’s kids and they’re looking out for each other’s property. I think that is kind of one of the more intangible factors that probably plays a role.”

He says the town is also fortunate to have a local RCMP detachment as it means officers are always in and around the area.

“They oversee the entire county, but because they start their shift and end their shift in Coaldale, there’s a lot more RCMP coming and going from the community, so I think that helps quite a bit,” said Wensveen.

Chiefly, Wensveen says it is important to look at the CSI over a longer period than just one year as so many factors go into determining the scores. However, even looking at Coaldale’s worst year between 2018 and 2022, it was still well below average, meaning the town has remained safe even in its darkest days from recent memory.

Coaldale also ranked highly in western Canada in that time frame, as the third safest municipality with a population between 8,000 and 11,000. Expanding further, the town was the sixth safest in the entire country during the same period.

Justin Sibbet, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald