Part of the plan includes changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act
By Diego Flammini
Alberta’s provincial government has charted its path forward to crack down on rural crime.
Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s minister of justice, and Jason Nixon, Alberta’s minister of environment and parks, visited a ranch in Wetaskiwin County on Wednesday to outline the government’s steps to reduce rural crime and support law enforcement.
First, Alberta will create a new Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence Force (RAPID).
This police unit will allow 400 officers in the Fish and Wildlife Environment Branch, the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the Alberta Sheriffs to respond to more calls. The RCMP will train the officers, who should be ready by next fall.
The Government is also creating a new program to give victims of rural crime tools to express their concerns.
The program will allow communities to submit impact statements describing how the crimes have affected the entire community.
The statement forms will be available online early in the new year.
And Alberta will create a Restitution Recoveries Program.
This program will give the government the authority to garnish wages, seize and sell property, or use other enforcement measures to help victims collect outstanding restitution payments.
The provincial government will also introduce legislative changes to defend the rights of property owners.
Amendments to the Occupiers’ Liability Act would “ensure that a criminal trespasser has no right of civil action against a law-abiding property owner who is defending their property and families against trespassers who are or who they believe to be in the process of committing a criminal act,” Schweitzer said, CTV reported.
The legislation would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, the minister said.
And changes to the Animal Health Act would create offences and penalties for people who trespass on farms and threaten biosecurity.
In addition, the government mandates that scrap metal dealers and recyclers must keep records and receive identification from sellers.
The rural crime measures come after Minister Schweitzer toured rural communities to hear from residents about the issues affecting them.
“The feedback of Albertans has been clear,” he said Wednesday. “They’ve simply stopped calling the police. We’ve encouraged them to continue to call, and they should continue to call the police. And we want them to do so because it’ll help make sure the proper stats are recorded.”
Farms.com has reached out to farm and rural groups for comment.