Bring Back the Blue in Downtown Calgary

Latest CPS report shows crime has spiked in Calgary’s City Centre

Last week, the Calgary Police Service released a 2018 Statistical Overview focusing on crime around the Supervised Consumption Site at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre in the Beltline. While the report validated the concerns of some residents and businesses around the site, it also revealed a troubling spike in crime that occurred in the Centre City as a whole in 2018.

The Calgary Police Service shuttered the last remaining police station in the Centre City in November 2017 making Calgary the only major municipality in Canada without a downtown police station.


City Centre break & enters and public violence significantly outpace the rest of the city in 2018

According to the Calgary Police Service report, vehicle crime, drug-related calls for service, public violence and break & enters all saw a rate of increase that was higher than the rest of the city in 2018. Of particular concern, public violence and break & enter crime increased by 35% and 55% respectively in the centre City; a vastly higher than the rest of the city.


Increase in crime in Centre City vs. Rest of the City in 2018


Rest of City

Centre City

Vehicle crime



Drug-related calls for service



Public violence



Break & enters



Source: Calgary Police Department: Crime & Disorder near the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre’s Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) Facility 2018 Statistical Overview


One year since CPS closed Victoria Park Police Station

In November 2017, Calgary Police Service closed the Victoria Park Police Station in the Beltline, the last remaining station in the Centre City. This came after the Calgary Police shuttered their former Downtown Headquarters and relocated to the northeast of the city near the airport at the former Nortel campus in 2009. The closure of these two stations has made Calgary the only major municipality in Canada without a permanent ‘bricks and mortar’ downtown police presence.


Lost police presence in the City Centre

While the same number of officers may still be on duty today, officers generally spend more time commuting back and forth between other stations outside of the Centre City, such as the District 1 Station in Ramsay or Chinook Centre, rather than policing in the neighbourhood. The loss of a permanent office in the Centre City means that we do not benefit from the presence of officers who are based in these communities. It also means that people who don’t have the means to get to a station outside of a reasonable walking distance and who do not have a phone or internet access cannot reliably access services.


Furthermore, the former Downtown Headquarters and, to a lesser extent, the Victoria Park station, were hubs of police activity that generated “freebie” police presence. They were frequented by uniformed off-duty police officers visiting for HR, training, meetings or other reasons and also generated additional police vehicle presence through the City Centre.


Calgary Police Services Headquarters relocated from Downtown in 2009 to the former Nortel Campus in a northeast industrial park near the airport.


The Mobile Command Vehicle is not working

At the time of the Vic Park Police Station closure, the now former Police Chief, Roger Chaffin, said “The challenge is going to be, of course, how to maintain a visible presence in that area without a building.”


Calgary Police assured the public their $900,000 “Mobile Command Vehicle”, purchased following the 2013 flood “to provide command and logistic support at a disaster site”, could fill the police presence gap.

Calgary Police Services “Mobile Command Vehicle” deployed on Stephen Avenue.


However, the “Mobile Command Vehicle” has seen limited action in the City Centre, mostly weekday banker’s hours on Stephen Avenue and only recently at the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre Supervised Consumption Site.


Calgary Police Service’s $900,000 “Mobile Command Vehicle” has had questionable impact on reducing crime or improving safety in the City Centre.


Whether the presence of the “Mobile Command Vehicle” itself makes a street any safer or more inviting is questionable given its imposing size and intimidating appearance. As an unfortunate secondary impact, it’s equally plausible that it sends a signal to tourists and would-be afternoon strollers to keep away. Instead of appearing open and welcoming to people who are in need of service, the MCV resembles something that people would expect to see in a disaster zone or the scene of a significant crime.


If Calgary’s downtown is critical to our city’s economic success, we must make public safety a priority

We’ve all heard how high downtown vacancy rates have triggered reduced property assessments in the core leaving businesses across the rest of the city facing double-digit tax increases and our City’s budget with a gaping hole. If we are to reverse this trend, we need to attract new businesses downtown, but to do that we need a safe and vibrant City Centre. If crime rates from this last year are any indication, we’re heading in the wrong direction.


The “Mobile Command Centre” does not fill the gap left from the former stations in Beltline and Downtown, we need to re-invest in a permanent police station in the City Centre that serves as an efficient operational hub for police services where they are needed most. That way, we can continue to build a safe and vibrant City Centre and a more financially sound city overall.


Help us send a message for Calgary Police Service to re-establish a station in the Centre City.


1) Share this blog post

Help us get the word out in support of Calgary Police Service re-establishing a permanent station in the City Centre.


2) Attend the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services

The next meeting is on Wednesday, February 13th, 9:30am at City Hall Council Chamber and Calgary Police Service has been asked to attend. The public will have the opportunity to speak.


3) Email you councillor

You can find you councillor here.


Join the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association