Calgary police have discovered a number of weapons at two homeless encampments in the city’s southeast as residents suffer from a spike in criminal activity.
On Monday, police revealed they found handguns, knives, axes, replica firearms, and ATVs worth more than $100,000 at encampments.
Calgary Police Service superintendent Scott Boyd said the encampment does not “equate to criminal behaviour” and police teams will address “unhoused individuals” and “those situations on their own merits.”
“What we’re really talking about here today is the criminality that some are choosing to start and try and thrive in,” Boyd said.
Police reported that a beverage container was hanging in a tree with bullet holes. CBC News reported that conversion tips were found in the area, leading police to believe that some homeless wanted to convert airsoft guns into legitimate guns.
Police further reported that one encampment appeared to be a wire-stripping operation for the re-sale of stolen copper wire.
Police have charged one person and taken them into custody in relation to stolen property. The investigation is ongoing.
Both Edmonton and Calgary have been hit by a crime wave. Overall criminal occurrences at LRT stations in Calgary increased 46% between 2021 and 2022.
The numbers are even worse in Edmonton, where LRT and transit centres experienced a 75% increase in violent criminal incidents between July 2022 and January 2023.
In response, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith last month directed officials to hire 100 more street-level police officers over the next 18 months to increase the visible law enforcement presence and tackle rising criminal activity.
Smith said the province is addressing root causes like mental health and addiction, but won’t compromise on security for Calgarians and Edmontonians meanwhile.
“Safety on public streets is never negotiable,” she said.
“This starts with the federal government reforming its broken catch-and-release bail system and includes us working with cities and police services to fight back against criminals.”
The Alberta NDP said it would restore municipal funding and hire 150 more police officers and pair them with the hiring of 150 social workers, mental health workers, addictions counsellors and more.