Kelowna may be Canada's most crime-plagued city, but a neighbouring municipality is a peaceful oasis by comparison.
The crime rate in Lake Country is falling faster than the national average, a new study has found.
Between 2009 and 2012, violent crime in the municipality fell 35 per cent, and property crime dropped
43 per cent. Across Canada during the same period,
violent crime fell four per cent and property crime
declined 14 per cent.
"There's a real sense of community here," Lake Country Coun. Owen Dickie said Sunday. "I think people tend to know each other, and watch over each other, maybe a little bit more than they would in a bigger community."
Lake Country, with a population of just 12,000, also attracts a much smaller number of tourists and transients than Kelowna, Dickie says. "A lot of the visitors we get tend to be day trippers from Kelowna, just trying to get a bit of a break," Dickie said.
While town council gets regular briefings from the Lake Country RCMP, Dickie says the average resident probably has no idea how much violent and personal crime has fallen recently in the municipality.
"We can get so busy dealing with everyday challenges, that we can forget to celebrate the good news that comes along," Dickie said. "We probably should work harder to get this positive message out."
In July, Statistics Canada issued a report identifying Kelowna as having the highest crime rate in the country for 2012. Total crime in the city was said to have risen six per cent between 2011 and 2012. Kelowna was also ranked third on Statistics Canada's crime severity index, after Regina and Saskatoon.
The contrasting crime trends for Lake Country, are included in a so-called sustainability study, recently completed for the town by the consulting firm of Golder Associates.
The study measures current conditions in Lake Country in a range of social, economic, and cultural fields. The study will be used as a baseline, against which future progress in the fields can be measured.
Other highlights of the study, which will be discussed Tuesday evening at a public meeting set for 5:30 -8 p.m at the town hall, are:
- After peaking at $65 million in 2006, the value of building permits declined sharply for three years. Since 2009, the annual total has been average about $35 million, equal to the 2005 level.
- The number of active business licences hasn't changed much in the last few years, holding steady at about 625. "Lake Country must continue to diversify and strengthen its economy and tax base," the consultants say.
- Housing options have increased. In 2006, 84 per cent of all homes were traditional single-family residences, but the figure now is 78 per cent with the construction of more apartments, condos, and townhomes.
- Total greenhouse gas emissions from all sources - transportation, buildings, and solid waste disposal - has risen from 68,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to 77,000 tonnes between 2007 and 2010. This suggests Lake Country, like most municipalities, is nowhere near achieving the government-mandated reduction of a 33 per cent cut in GHG emissions from 2007 levels by 2020.
- Household waste production is also up in Lake Country, from 535 kilograms in 2008 to 569 kg last year.
- The economic impact of fishing on Wood Lake has collapsed from $1.5 million in 2008 to just $100,000 last year, owing to the declining numbers and poor health of the fish population.