The massive flood of visitors to Balzac has area police begging for more officers. Inspector Tony Hamori of the Airdrie RCMP detachment says that thanks to the CrossIron Mills mall, the 13 Mounties assigned to patrol 130 kilometres of Rocky View County are increasingly called to handle problems associated with 700,000 mall customers who visit the rural district every month. The resident population of Rocky View County is just under 37,000.
“I’m not saying we’ve got a huge rash of crime out this way, but when we’ve got that volume of people we get the typical thefts, vandalism to vehicles, accidents; complaints that draw our officers to the mall,” says Hamori.
Hamori is bringing this situation to the attention of stakeholders, including the Balzac Business Association, the Rocky View County administration and the provincial government. He says so far they are all receptive to his arguments for more officers.
“People don’t realize that there’s a bit of a line in the sand in terms of the RCMP out here. The city of Airdrie pays for policing positions within the city of Airdrie... Calgary residents pay for Calgary policing,” Hamori explains. The solution, short of Calgary annexing Balzac, is for business owners to collaboratively pay 100 per cent of the costs for additional officers to deal with the business district. Rocky View County spokesperson Stacy McGuire says such “enhanced officers” cost $138,000 per year.
Hamori is hoping stakeholders address the issue soon, because, he points out, the influx will only increase with the opening of Target and the possible United Horseman’s racetrack.
CrossIron Mills, which opened in 2009, contains 1.2 million square feet of retail space. In August 2012, general manager James Moller told the Calgary Herald that between July 2011 and 2012, the mall had 8.25 million customers, which was 10 per cent more than the year prior. Fifteen more stores are scheduled to open before 2013.