You can discern the safety of Canadian cities in numerous ways.
Consult with Statistics Canada, and the agency will show you the country’s highest and lowest police-reported crime rates.
Or you can ask the people who live in those cities about how safe they feel, and you’ll see a different ranking entirely.
Coverage of crime rates on Globalnews.ca:
A poll released by Mainstreet Research/Postmedia on Wednesday suggests Canadians’ feelings about their own safety don’t necessarily line up with the statistics.
The survey showed that, out of 15 cities, Winnipeggers felt the least safe in their hometown, while Ottawans felt most safe.
Mainstreet started monitoring how Canadians feel about their safety in 15 cities last year, after Statistics Canada released crime data so that it could measure “relevant differences” between what the stats say, and what people say.
The latest survey shows clear differences between the two.
Regina, for example, had Canada’s highest Crime Severity Index (CSI), according to data released by StatsCan last month.
CSI is a tool that tracks crime rates by taking into account both the volumes of particular crimes, as well as the seriousness of offences from year to year.
Winnipeg did, however, rank highest among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), or places with populations of more than 100,000, when it came to the CSI for violent crime.
With 55 per cent of Winnipeggers saying they feel either “somewhat or very unsafe,” Manitoba’s capital ranked as the least safe city on Mainstreet’s list for the second year in a row.
Winnipeg’s placement at the bottom of the list came as the city had a CSI of 103.9, an increase of 16 per cent over last year.
But that was only enough to rank it fourth when it came to crime severity among Canadian cities, behind Regina (125.8), Saskatoon (117.8) and Edmonton (105.7).
Winnipeg also had the fifth-highest police-reported crime rate, though at 13 per cent, it climbed faster there than in any other Canadian city.
READ MORE: Regina leads the country in total crime rate
In releasing the latest survey, Mainstreet Research president Quito Maggi said there’s a correlation between “media concentration and perceptions of relative safety.”
Ottawa, for example, emerged as the city with the strongest perception of safety, in the same year that Canada 150 celebrations took place, along with the “ongoing concentration of media being related to issues of the federal government.”
But in Winnipeg’s case, “it looks like the stories that are breaking through on national TV and social media has not helped Winnipeg improve its standing with Canadians,” Maggi said.
LISTEN: Mainstreet VP Joseph Angolano on why Toronto is perceived as unsafe
As for Regina, the city with the highest CSI score and the second-highest homicide rate among cities in the survey, the Saskatchewan capital ranked ninth of the 15 cities when it came to residents’ opinions about their safety.
It dropped three places from last year as its CSI score jumped by 15 per cent.
But Mainstreet executive vice-president David Valentin said those numbers don’t tell the whole story either.
“In absolute numbers, only eight homicides took place in Regina last year,” he said in the survey.
“Statistically, the crime rate in Regina is a problem given its smaller population but eight homicides is a low absolute number, especially when compared to the 47 homicides recorded in Edmonton or the 33 recorded in Calgary.”
Here are 15 Canadian cities ranked from least to most safe, according to Mainstreet’s survey (the methodology is explained at the bottom of this story):
15) Winnipeg, Man.
Crime Severity Index score: 103.9
14) Toronto, Ont.
Crime Severity Index score: 47.5
13) Montreal, Que.
Crime Severity Index score: 57.8
12) Saskatoon, Sask.
Crime Severity Index score: 117.8
11) Quebec City, Que.
Crime Severity Index score: 45.2
10) Calgary, Alta.
Crime Severity Index score: 74.6
9) Regina, Sask.
Crime Severity Index score: 125.8
8) Vancouver, B.C.
Crime Severity Index score: 94.3
7) Halifax, N.S.
Crime Severity Index score: 61
6) Edmonton, Alta.
Crime Severity Index score: 105.7
5) St. John’s, N.L.
Crime Severity Index score: 79.2
4) Moncton, N.B.
Crime Severity Index score: 75.7
3) Victoria, B.C.
Crime Severity Index score: 63.8
2) Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Crime Severity Index score for P.E.I.: 48.5
1) Ottawa, Ont.
Crime Severity Index score: 51.3
Mainstreet Research surveyed a “random stratified sample” of 2,050 Canadian adults between Aug. 14 and 18. The survey was done through “live interviews,” and both landlines and cell phone lines were included. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 2.16 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Results might not add up to 100 due to rounding.