Last Wednesday, Lac La Biche & District Chamber of Commerce held a round table meeting at McArthur Place where local business owners could talk with the County, RCMP, and Peace Officers about their concerns in regards to the increase in crime in the hamlet.
The purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to move forward and work together to improve the situation, and to find preventative measures so that business owners and residents can feel safer.
Ken Van Buul, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), led the discussion and Lac La Biche Mayor Omer Moghrab, RCMP Staff Sergeant Jerry Nutbrown, and Manager of Enforcement Services Chris Clark, helped to answer questions from the public.
“The round table went well. It was nice to see business owners that were actually out and supporting the meeting, and it was nice to see the conversation between the business owners and law enforcement,” said Clark.
“I think business owners need to realize that they have a big part to play in crime prevention, and the safety of the community. The public needs to be reporting all criminal activity that they see so law enforcement can respond accordingly.”
Speaking with business owners after the meeting, not all of them were left feeling satisfied with how the meeting went.
Asma Haymour has been the owner of Four Seasons Clothing on main street for 34 years, and she wanted to attend the meeting because she has seen first hand the uptick in crime in and around her store.
“Crime, alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental health issues have been escalating for quite a few years in Lac La Biche. Just a few weeks ago we had a man come into our store who was on drugs and he started to threaten us and he said he was going to burn the place down,” said Haymour.
“Before that incident, we had a fight break out in front of our store and our customers saw that and it was very scary for them. That is why I wanted to go to this meeting and see if there was anything that we can do.”
Haymour feels that the main cause of the issues were not talked about enough to make her feel that real change will happen.
“The root of the problem has to be solved. We have no place for all these homeless people. We have a small shelter and we are getting more and more people, and we don’t have any treatment centers,” said Haymour.
“There’s so many people who if they need help they can’t get help. Conversations have to happen with the provincial government, and it has to be dealt with on that level, we can’t deal with it on our own.”