Canada’s most dangerous cities: the good news

Yes, there’s been an overall decline in crime levels in Canada—but some areas stand out as especially safe

by Ken MacQueen, Patricia Treble and Alex Ballingall

Longest without a murder: Lévis, Que.

The last time anyone was murdered in this city of 137,000, which sits just across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City, was 2002. That’s the longest stretch of any big metropolitan area. Fortunately, there are many other places in Canada where homicide detectives are also as underemployed as the proverbial Maytag repairman. Some 38 of Canada’s 100 largest cities—from Windsor, Ont. (pop. 221,000) to West Vancouver (pop. 50,000)—recorded a homicide-free year. Canada even has a homicide-free province. In 2010, Prince Edward Island recorded not a single murder among its 142, 000 residents, for the second year in a row.

Canada’s safest province: Ontario

Who knew? Big, bad Ontario has an overall crime score 21 per cent below that of Canada as a whole. It’s below average in all six individual crime categories measured by Maclean’s, including having the lowest breaking and entering rate in the country, at 414 per 100,000 people. That’s 28 per cent below the national average. And pack up the myth that respect for private property goes out the window (along with the stereo and the family silverware) in larger communities. After the small Ontario areas of South Simcoe and Caledon, the horseshoe of regions surrounding Toronto—York (pop. 1,040,000), Halton (pop. 507,000) and Durham (pop. 620,000)—have the next three lowest B & E rates in the country. Rest easy, suburbia, your lawn mowers are safe.

Hope in the North: Yukon

Canada’s northern territories have for years been fraught with crime rates that are horribly worse than the national average. Coupled with disproportionate poverty and disease, the result is a perpetually grim picture of life north of the 60th parallel. But in the midst of this bleakness there is promise. Bucking the overall trend of its northern peers, Yukon’s crime score dropped more than 36 per cent from 2000 to 2010. (Contrast that with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which saw their scores go up by 35 and 38 per cent respectively.) “I would hope that everything we’re doing is contributing,” says RCMP communications strategist David Gilbert. To further their progress, the RCMP will soon be creating a demographic study of the territory “to get a good detailed picture of the policing environment,” says Gilbert.

Canada’s safest city: Caledon

This Ontario region has been the safest overall for four years running, but in 2010 there were two murders, giving it a rate of homicide 88 per cent above the national rate. It also experienced the second biggest jump in violent crime between 2005 and 2010. So watch out, Caledon. The impressively low crime ranking of Centre Wellington, Ont., a one-hour drive to the southwest, was just a notch behind you.




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Canada’s most dangerous cities: the good news

  1. I love how ‘ol Toronto loving Macleans, figures that the East, specifically Ontario and Quebec, are so safe. Yet forget to mention anything about how there crime figures are diluted by the size of their population. Give me a fucking break!

    • 10 per cent of 1000000 or 10 percent of 1000 is still 10 percent!!! Facts are counted in percentage ..

      • Percentages are typically the most accurate way to report stats like this simply, but they do throw things off when you’re dealing with small populations, because very small changes in absolute numbers can lead to large percentage changes (e.g., a couple of crimes in a small town completely changing its ranking).

        This is likely part of the explanation for the three (very low-population) territories having the highest reported crime rates.

        • Agreed. But having Saskatoon at the top of the list is an embarrassment to Maclean’s, Saskatchewan, and Canada.

          There are at least 4 cities in Saskatchewan that are FAR more dangerous than Saskatoon.

          North Battleford, Prince Albert, Estevan, Regina for sure no questions asked.

          I would also rather not be walking around late at night in Swift, La Ronge, Kindersly, or Lloyd.

          Saskatoon is the largest centre in SK and therefore hosts minor gang activity.
          However, unless you go looking for it. You won’t find it – period.

          I would happily walk around in any area of Saskatoon, with 100s hanging out of my pockets. Would anyone from Toronto, or Ottawa honestly say the same?
          Yes, overall Montreal and Calgary are safe cities – and I’m pretty confident in most areas, but less dangerous than Saskatoon? Give me a break!
          I’ve lived here most of my life (although I will be moving soon) and I can say I can’t think of anyone I know who was ever a victim of anything more than minor vandalism or minor theft. Can anyone from TO say the same?

          Maclean’s needs to stop being the most biased and most embarrassing publication in Canada.

  2. Uhm…Slapnuts (??). You’re not very smart.

  3. how did halton region finish as a safer city when their murder rate skyrocketed this year(i am aware the result is based on percentages)

  4. Victoria BC is overall 2nd is just crazy because we don’t just have one police force for the entire greater Victoria area. Victoria is just over 100,000 in population and then the next biggest area is Saanich with I think about 116,000 and they are placed at 76th spot. They each have their own police dept and then there is another area we call the Westshore which is policed by the RCMP.  So if we combine all areas the population is about 400,000. They should combine all stats from all police depts and then rack the entire “metro” area.  We would be way low compared to other cites our size. The crimes tend to happen in the downtown area so the stats are just from Victoria police dept. Other large cities in Canada have one police dept for the entire metro area.

  5. It’s all good news! I’m from Victoria, and never felt in danger there. If that’s Canada’s second-most dangerous city, Canada’s basically a paradise safety-wise. (Given that the news is good, maybe Macleans should reduce sensationalism by titling their data “Canada’s safest cities” instead? May as well report good news as, well, good.)

    It makes the Conservatives look even more ridiculous for trying to blow the issue out of proportion, ignore how good things are, and implement a system that will cost us massive amounts of money and that even the US now admits doesn’t work. Given all of the areas where Canada faces genuine challenges (homelessness, poverty, student debt spiralling out of control), why focus on one area where we’ve seen genuine improvement and are doing well?

  6. I propose CSI: PEI as a new Canadian TV show. ;)

  7. I wouldn’t have pegged the safest provine to be Ontario. That really surprises me.

  8. when these polls were taken I bet they didn’t count the corrupt police in these towns did they . i’m not worried about the average criminal i’m more scarred of the police where I live the police are the biggest law breakers out there . there is a web site that shows all the complaints and charges on the police you will be shocked how bad the police really are , don’t be fooled people they are not who they say they are .

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