Mayor Nenshi insists Calgary safe despite 'blip' in violent crime

Calgary's mayor insists the city is an "extraordinarily safe" place to live, despite a recent "blip" in violent crime.

Police to brief public after spate of killings likely linked to drugs and guns

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the rate of violent crime in Calgary is amongst the lowest in generations. (CBC)

Calgary's mayor insists the city is an "extraordinarily safe" place to live, despite a recent "blip" in violent crime.

His attempt to reassure residents comes as acting police Chief Paul Cook is set to give a public update this week on police efforts to crack down on a growing number of shootings this year.

There have been 19 homicides and three suspicious deaths so far this year. That surpasses the annual figures of 11 and 17 in 2011 and 2010 respectively. Last year, there were 32 homicides in total, Calgary police figures show.

Disputes over drugs and guns are believed to be the underlying cause of the shootings, which have happened in various locations.

"We live in an extraordinarily safe city and that even after this summer, the rates of violent crime in this city are amongst the lowest they've been in generations," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

"That's important for us to remember so when we see blips, we're seeing blips on a pretty small number," he added.

Kelly Sundberg, who teaches justice studies at Mount Royal University, says the recent spike in gun violence will undoubtedly spark public anxiety. But he, too, insists Calgary is a safe city.

"When you think we have a population of roughly 1.2 million people and, to date, having 19 homicides, that's so incredibly low," he said.

In July, Calgary police said the level of gun violence in the city was like nothing they had seen before. 

Since then, there have been a number of other shootings. Most recently, a 23-year-old woman was shot dead last week near a strip mall on 19th Street at 16th Avenue in Calgary's northwest.

Nenshi says he's confident the police can handle the situation, just as it quelled a gang war in the city a few years ago.

"The last time we had concerns about violence in our community, certainly the police had a wonderful response and were able to really get that under control," he said.

"And so it's now time not necessarily to re-activate, but for a broader view on this, the police have that broader view.  They know what they're doing but it is time for them to share a little bit more of that with the public because people are legitimately concerned."