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Poll: Despite low crime rate, Canadians still believe Toronto is unsafe
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, August 23, 2017 8:09AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 23, 2017 9:12AM EDT
Despite having one of the one of the lowest violent crime rates among Canada’s largest cities, Toronto is still perceived to be one of the least safe cities in the country, according to a new survey released Wednesday.
The Mainstreet/ Postmedia poll, which randomly surveyed 2,050 Canadians, looked at public perception of safety in 15 Canadian cities and found that next to Winnipeg, Toronto was considered to be the least safe city in the country with 52 per cent of respondents suggesting that the city is unsafe. About 40 per cent of respondents said they think Toronto is a safe city.
The city with the highest crime rate in 2016 was Regina followed by Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
“Toronto is one of the safest cities in Canada considering just how many people there are,” Joseph Angolano, vice-president of Mainstreet Research, said in a statement accompanying the poll.
The survey noted that Toronto has the lowest crime rate among all 15 cities in the survey and the city’s homicide rate of 1.55 is less than the homicide rate in St. John’s, Regina, Saskatoon, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.
“Statistically you are safer in Toronto than many other cities but that can be difficult to get across when media coverage of crimes in the city becomes amplified by social media and national pick-up. Ontarians are just as likely as the rest of Canada to say Toronto is unsafe,” Angolano added.
According to respondents, Ottawa, which had the fourth lowest crime rate in 2016 among all 15 cities, was considered to be the safest city in the country.
About 74 per cent of respondents said they believe Ottawa is a safe city and just 14 per cent said they believed the nation's capital was unsafe.
“Home to the Federal Government and two Universities, people largely perceive Ottawa to be safe because it is associated with students and the bureaucracy,” Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research, said in his analysis of the survey.
“National news about Ottawa can sometimes be bad news, but it is rarely about crime or violent crime. Positive associations with the current Prime Minister and other popular government figures likely also adds to the perceived safety of the City of Ottawa.”
With the exception of Toronto, the survey suggests that provincial capitals all seemed to have a higher perception of safety than other urban centres in their respective provinces.
“Victoria, Edmonton, Regina & Quebec City all have higher perceived safety when compared to Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon & Montreal respectively,” Maggi said.
He added that there appears to be a link between media concentration and perceptions of safety.
“A single violent crime that occurs in Toronto or Montreal, could have dozens of media mentions and potentially be shared on social media hundreds or thousands of times while the same crime in smaller urban centres does not get the same amplification effect,” Maggi noted.
The survey, which was conducted between Aug. 14 to Aug. 18, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.16 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.