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

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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