Canadian cities where people feel the most (and least) safe: poll

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Cities where Canadians feel most, least safe: poll
WATCH: How safe do you feel in your own city? – Aug 23, 2017

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

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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.

READ MORE: Fewer sexual assault victims are going to police — here’s what everyone needs to do

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.

A Winnipeg police car patrols the street in Winnipeg on Monday, May 23, 2011. Francis Vachon/CP

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.

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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

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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.

The Winnipeg skyline is seen on June 17, 2004. Ken Gigliotti, Winnipeg Free Press via CP

Crime Severity Index score: 103.9

14) Toronto, Ont.

Steam rises from Lake Ontario in front of the skyline during extreme cold weather in Toronto, Saturday February 13, 2016. Mark Blinch/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 47.5

13) Montreal, Que.

Montreal is shown at night Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Graham Hughes/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 57.8

12) Saskatoon, Sask.

Saskatoon’s skyline is shown Sept. 29, 2005. Geoff Howe/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 117.8

11) Quebec City, Que.

The Chateau Frontenac in old historic Quebec City Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Jacques Boissinot/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 45.2

10) Calgary, Alta.

A full moon floats over Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Jeff McIntosh/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 74.6

9) Regina, Sask.

The Regina, Sask. cityscape as seen from Taylor Field on Sunday, May 29, 2005. Geoff Howe/Cp

Crime Severity Index score: 125.8

8) Vancouver, B.C.

Sunset colours reflect off the glass of Vancouver’s crowded downtown skyline,. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Crime Severity Index score: 94.3

7) Halifax, N.S.

A sailboat is seen in front of the Halifax skyline on Sunday, July 31, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese. Darren Calabrese/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 61

6) Edmonton, Alta.

City of Edmonton skyline, seen from Saskatchewan Drive on July 31, 2017. Global News

Crime Severity Index score: 105.7

5) St. John’s, N.L.

St. John’s, N.L. on Friday Dec. 26, 2003. Jonathan Hayward/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 79.2

4) Moncton, N.B.

The sunset casts a warm light on the Moncton, N.B. skyline on Thursday July 6, 2006. Jonathan Hayward/CP

Crime Severity Index score: 75.7

3) Victoria, B.C.

Victoria, B.C.’s Inner Harbour. Leanna Rathkelly / Getty Images

Crime Severity Index score: 63.8

2) Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The Roman Catholic Saint Dunstan’s Basilicia dominates the Charlottetown, P.E.I. skyline from this vantage point on the historic city’s waterfront. Brian McInnis/CP

Crime Severity Index score for P.E.I.: 48.5

1) Ottawa, Ont.

Winds blow vapour from buildings on the Ottawa skyline as temperatures hovered near -40C with windchill in Ottawa, Thursday, January 24, 2013. Adrian Wyld/CP

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.


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