Crime in Canadian cities: 'Perceptions do not necessarily match the reality,' pollster says

The statistics say Saskatoon, Regina and Edmonton have the most severe crime but Canadians say Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal are the most dangerous cities, according to a new poll from Mainstreet Research.

Winnipeg and Toronto get the worst reputations, but Edmonton and Vancouver have more severe crime

Of 15 cities in a national poll, Saskatoon, Regina and Edmonton didn't crack the top 3 in terms of perceived danger, although they had the most severe crime in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. (Thomas Kelley / Tintaggon / Christian Hering-Junghans)

The statistics say Saskatoon, Regina and Edmonton have the most severe crime but Canadians believe Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal are the most dangerous cities, according to a new poll from Mainstreet Research.

"The results paint an interesting portrait of how we see each other," Mainstreet president Quito Maggi said in a release.

"Perceptions do not necessarily match the reality of crime and safety."

Ottawa was perceived as the safest city of 15 included in the poll, followed by Charlottetown and Moncton.

According to Statistics Canada, however, the cities with the least severe crime last year were Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa, respectively.

Canada's biggest city had the biggest perception-reality gap — despite having the second-lowest crime severity index, Toronto was perceived as the second most dangerous city, behind only Winnipeg.

And Manitoba's capital, despite its unsafe reputation, had less severe crime than Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon.

Click on this interactive graph to see the difference in various cities' perceived safety, and actual crime severity index:

Alberta's two largest cities were considered safe by most survey respondents, with Calgary perceived as slightly safer than Edmonton, on the whole.

Young people see it differently, however, with poll respondents aged 18 to 34 saying they see Edmonton as slightly safer than Calgary.

Atlantic Canadians also bucked the national trend and ranked Calgary as more dangerous than Edmonton.

Atlantic Canada, itself, was perceived as relatively safe, in spite of the actual crime statistics.

Moncton, for example, had a crime severity index nearly identical to Calgary's, but was only seen as unsafe by 25 per cent of survey respondents, compared to 38 per cent who said Calgary is unsafe.

Similarly, St. John's had a higher crime severity index than Victoria, but was only seen as unsafe by 20 per cent of the Canadians polled, compared to 33 per cent who thought the same of British Columbia's capital.

The crime severity index is a measure used by Statistics Canada based on the volume and severity of police-reported crime.

The Mainstreet Research poll was conducted using a random survey sample of 4,213 Canadians Aug. 3-4. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 1.52 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


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