Everywhere you turn, you can find the latest list of the best city to live in, the most livable cities or the happiest cities. There’s more focus on creating sustainable, healthier and more supportive communities. In many ways, this is a reflection of our population’s interest in cities that have a strong sense of community.
When we look at what makes cities or communities desirable to live in, there are a few common factors like a strong economy, affordability, dependable transit options, accessible health care, as well as low crime rates.
When we line these attributes up against the focus of public policy priorities at the local, provincial and federal level, we can see that many of them have the attention of elected officials and decision makers (e.g., health care, transportation). And when priorities are stated, funding often follows in one form or another. However, there’s one notable stand-out that hasn’t been stated as a priority and has limited long-term funding commitments. Namely, community safety and crime prevention.
The problem is that safe cities are also inherently resilient, sustainable and more liveable and yet, in Canada, there is very limited sustainable for funding crime prevention and community safety programs in our communities.
The Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention (CMNCP), which is comprised of 26 municipalities across our country representing almost 40% of Canada’s population, is a collaborative community of practice that shares information and expertise to inform local crime prevention and community safety strategies.
Research shows that crime prevention works and is very cost-effective. For example, if there is a $1.3 million annual investment in crime prevention initiatives in a community after 10 years, the victimization rates would go down by 50%, there would be 31,000 fewer violent crimes, and 57,000 fewer property crimes. Further, our research even shows savings of up to $46 million in municipal policing, and $76 million in other policing, court and incarceration costs over time.
Our municipal members know the importance of crime prevention, and continue to develop plans that respond to the unique situations in each community. However, in many cases their work is done with little resources to support this very important work. We look forward to a future when crime prevention is a recognized priority and there is sustained funding. We know that when that happens, through a multi-government collaboration, we can create safer cities and communities for all Canadians.