You want to feel safe on Vancouver Island?
Step behind the tweed curtain.
A new ranking shows Oak Bay is the second-least dangerous community in all of Canada, and the bright spot on a report that showed Vancouver Island towns ranging all over the map for the amount of severe crime.
Drawing on the Violent Crime Severity Index (CSI), Macleans’ Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2020 lists Oak Bay in 236th place, just ahead of Thames Centre, ON, Canada’s safest community.
Five other Island communities rank the near bottom of the list: Comox (205th), Colwood (206th), Sidney (211th), Central Saanich (226th) and North Saanich (228th).
The list ranks Thompson, MB, as the most dangerous community in Canada, and Port Alberni as the most dangerous on Vancouver Island, ranking 17th overall.
Alberni edged Victoria/Esquimalt, which ranked as the Island’s second-most dangerous spot, ninth-most dangerous in British Columbia and 32nd place overall. Nanaimo placed 69th overall, North Cowichan 72nd, Courtenay 84th and Campbell River 86th.
When comparing communities, two other factors also stand out: age and income. The older the community, the lower on the list. Central Saanich has a median age of 50.4, Oak Bay 53.6, North Saanich 56.2, and Sidney 59.8. Victoria, by contrast has a median age of 42.7. Also notable is the difference in incomes.
Whereas average after-tax income of Oak Bay households was $105,965 in 2015, Victoria’s average after-tax income of households was $58,536. Without dismissing other demographic and socio-economic factors, these figures broadly confirm the theory that younger, poorer communities record higher levels of crime than older, richer communities.
In addition to violent crime, the survey also tackled the overall crime rate, with its Crime Severity Index, a Statistics Canada measure that blends the severity of offences with the amount.
Parksville is the Island community trending the most in the wrong direction. The sandcastle city saw the nation’s eighth-largest increase in the ‘five-year change in Crime Severity Index’.
North Cowichan (54th), Port Alberni (61st), and Victoria/Esquimalt (66th) were the other Island communities ranked poorly on this list. Langford was the most improved, ranking 186th.
Parksville took the 33rd spot (of 237) overall, according to the Crime Severity Index, with a measurement of 120 — above the average of 75.01. In 2013, Parksville’s CSI was 66.47.
Port Alberni was 18th on the CSI list; Nanaimo was 36th, with Courtenay 57th, Campbell River 80th and Comox 194th.
Staff Sgt. Marc Pelletier said Parksville’s CSI doesn’t necessarily equate to a more dangerous community. The city was well down the list in the Violent Crime Severity Index at 157th.
“I think what’s happening is we’ve got a lot more petty crime, we’re getting more theft from vehicles and stuff like that,” he said. “People don’t lock their cars here, we’ve got to start having the people lock their doors and lock their cars and keep their stuff out of the vehicles.”
Maclean’s annual list uses Statistics Canada’s CSI data, which measures both the volume and severity of police-reported crime in a municipality and compares it to the national average. Their list includes 237 urban centres with a population of 10,000 or more and uses the most recent data available from 2018.
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