Thursday, March 13, 2008

High Crime in Western Canada

Just as the affordable housing survey a few months ago caught my attention, so has a new study by Maclean's Magazine that reveals the "most dangerous cities in Canada". Apparently, Western Canada tops the list of the most crime-ridden cities north of the border with nine of the top 10 cities being located in that region. Noticeably absent from the top 10 were Toronto, ON and Montreal, QC; the latter of which just inched its way into the top-20 in the 19th spot. (Toronto was 26th!) Oddly, good ol' Halifax, NS rounded out the top 10.

Vancouver, BC came in ninth, followed by Victoria, BC in 8th, Chilliwack, BC (7th), New Westminster, BC (6th), Edmonton, AB (5th), and Prince George, BC (4th). The top three spots were reserved for Winnipeg, MB, Saskatoon, SK, and, in the number-one position, Regina, SK! All three of these cities were 140%+ above the national average! Ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) Regina was deemed one of the most affordable places to live in Canada in the aforementioned survey.

Halifax ranking 10th might have blown me away had I not been previously informed (by a friend that used to live there) about the incredibly high crime rates. I was taken aback, however, at Toronto only making it to 26th spot. Not that I'm disapointed, of course. But perception would lead one to believe that Toronto is the rough n' tough city filled with thugs and brutes.

Broken down by "type" of crime, the robbers gravitate toward Chilliwack, Victoria, and Regina; while the car thiefs make cities like Winnipeg and Joliette their home. Interestingly, Macleans points out that car theft rates in these two cities are actually higher than in the biggest car thief capitals of the U.S.: Detriot and Las Vegas! If you're poison is breaking and entering, then you're more likely to live in Chilliwack, Victoria, or Regina. Saskatoon and Regina were also highest when it comes to aggravated assault; and Saskatoon adds sexual assault to that list as well. Although it only ranked 21st overall, Arthabaska, QC, which is halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, can be considered "murder central".

As for my hometown of Toronto, it's likely that we're prone to crimes of a more violent nature, whereas other cities (like Regina) might log more crimes due to smaller-scale situations.

So where can you live to be safe? According to Maclean's, Caledon, ON, a small city about an hour west of Toronto, has been rated Canada's safest community". This doesn't surprise me, since it's pretty much a quiet area full of retirees, lots of open land, and well-to-do folks.

The numbers in this survey are drawn from the highest per-capita crime rates according to 2006 data. In case you're wondering why this data comes from a two-year old survey, this is supposedly the most recent data available from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. But I doubt anything has really changed that drastically over 2007.


Anonymous said...


I read your blog. I recently moved to Toronto from Regina. I just wanted to say I feel much safer in Regina then in Toronto.

While being in Regina for 27 years I have never experienced aggravated assault, robbery, or had my car stolen. I know a lot of people in Regina and I have yet to meet someone who has experienced any of the crimes mentioned above.

While I have been in Toronto someone was shot in the head near my local dominion grocery store (which did not even make the news because it was gang related). I missed a shooting on Young Street by 4 hours, and someone was shot dead outside my friend’s apartment in the entertainment district of Toronto.

Saskatchewan’s economy has finally taken a turn for the better and then these fools at the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics go along and post these useless statistics.

Anonymous said...

I have to say - this Maclean's report is skewed. I've lived in Saskatoon for over 12yrs and feel very safe. I don't even lock my door if I go out on a quick trip to Timmy's. Most of our crime in located in an area called Riversdale - high native population with social problems and lack of education which leads to these problems. I travel Western Canada for work and I don't feel safe in Vancouver or Winnipeg. Winnipeg has similar problems to Saskatoon - high native population with a lack of education and social problems.
At least we don't have people gunned down in the middle of a busy street like some cities.

Anonymous said...

What is with all this western defense mechanism kicking in? These companies dont make fictitious stats up for the fun of it. Just because you havent heard of a crime happening, doesnt mean it doesnt happen. I live in Toronto and have never been exposed to any kind of criminal activity, but that doesnt mean it doesnt happen.

Anonymous said...

I find it surprising that Victoria is so high on the list, considering that it is quite small compared to the other cities on the list. I believe the study didn't factor in that the Capital Regional District is actually split into about 13 seperate municipalities, and that the city of Victoria is only about eight square miles. So I find it hard to believe in these statistics especially when you take into account that Saanich, a region on Victoria, has one of the lowest crime rates in BC.