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Crime concerns up in Langley City, survey shows

Despite overall satisfaction with quality of life remaining high, transportation, social issues and a sharp drop in public perception of safety downtown at night were key concerns in Langley City last year, according to the City’s 2013 Community Survey results.

Ipsos Reid surveyed 600 residents in October 2013 and found that 95 per cent of citizens rated quality of life in Langley City very good or good – an indicator that has remained high since it was first measured in 2004.

The survey, done every three years, shows slightly lower scores on emergency preparedness and satisfaction with road conditions compared with previous measurements, Ipsos Reid’s Kyle Braid told Langley City council on Monday.

Markers such as satisfaction with municipal accountability and accessibility remained high compared to previous years, said Braid, and the survey showed a 92 per cent overall satisfaction with services provided by the City.

When asked to identify what they saw as the most important issue facing their community, 27 per cent of respondents pointed to transportation challenges like street conditions, public transit and traffic congestion as their main concern, followed by social issues like poverty or homelessness. Eighteen per cent of those polled mentioned crime as their top concern.

“These are not unique issues to the City of Langley,” said Braid, noting that Ipsos Reid finds similar results across the Lower Mainland.

More than one-third of those who said quality of life had worsened attributed this perception to issues surrounding crime, and 45 per cent of the citizens polled said they feel less secure in their community than five years ago, with 32 per cent saying they felt more secure.

And although the majority of respondents said they felt safe in downtown Langley during the day, perceptions of safety in the area during the evening have declined significantly, down from 65 per cent in 2010 to 54 per cent in 2013.

But according to City acting Mayor Ted Schaffer, who met with RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke last week, proactive plans are in place to address some of these concerns.

“We discussed city core issues and a strategy to target some of the problems in the downtown core and in the city in general,” he said during the mayor’s report.

Schaffer says security cameras will be soon be operational in the newly-revitalized McBurney Plaza, to complement those already monitoring City Hall and Douglas Park. As well, Schaffer has approved spending some overtime dollars for enhanced police presence if needed.

“I have never done a survey where the public has said crime was decreasing,” said Braid.

In fact, crime rates are down across Langley City and Township, according to Langley RCMP’s most recent quarterly update, presented to council in December.

“It doesn’t necessarily jive with what’s happening in the real numbers,” he said.

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