25 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada (with Pictures)
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
The Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI) is one metric used in Canada to determine violent crime severity in a particular area. It considers crimes, such as homicide, assault, sexual assault, and firearms-related offenses. The national average VCSI is 82.44. Below, we will see how 25 of the most dangerous cities in Canada stack up to this average and a couple of other metrics. When reading these other metrics, keep in mind that the average homicide rate and the average controlled drug trafficking and production rates per 100k are 1.76 and 31.58, respectively.
While reading this list, one last thing to keep in mind: unlike the United States, Canada has a much higher concentration of small cities (10–15,000 people). So, while these per capita stats are shockingly high, the actual number is usually low. But a lower actual number doesn’t necessarily equate to being safer when the lower population is considered.
The 25 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada: A Quick Look
1. North Battleford, SASK
With no murders, North Battleford seems like a promising start to the list. Unfortunately, the VCSI has gone up due to increased sexual assault. On the plus side, this city has seen decreased non-sexual assaults. Even though controlled drug offenses are still well above the national average, they have also declined in the latest stats. Youth criminal offenses are also high at 346.28 compared to the national average of 13.01, but this is a slight improvement over previous years.
2. Prince Albert, SASK
Physical and sexual assault are the two main factors driving up the VCSI in Prince Albert. Unfortunately, they have gone up again. Controlled drug offenses have gone up, but other drug offenses are on the decline, which is good news considering the rise of gang activity in Prince Albert. According to local police, most victims of violent crime are known to each other (CBC). Unfortunately, violent crime is up, but it’s good news that most drug offenses are not also going up.
3. Quesnel, BC
Quesnel has earned itself the title of the most dangerous city in British Columbia due to its high crime rate across the board. To make it worse, all the statistics have gone up according to the latest report from Statistics Canada. The one positive note is that there were zero youth-related offenses. Here’s to hoping as the youth become adults, the crime rate curve will begin to flatten in this small mountain town.
4. Wetaskiwin, AB
If you are from western Canada, you will be familiar with the iconic “cars cost less in Wetaskiwin” jingle from the mid-80s. But you may be less familiar with a darker side of this small city. Its VCSI is well above the national average, thanks to a high rate of assault and a climbing statistic of drug-related offenses. Thankfully, murder is not something that often worries residents.
5. Williams Lake, BC
Violence is on the decline in this small BC town, but according to the RCMP, gang activity is increasing (CKGP). With this rise of gang activity, an increase of drug-related offenses and firearms-related offenses is taking place. Hopefully, the RCMP can get this new criminal activity under control before it harms the tourism in Williams Lake.
6. Timmins, ON
Assault, murder, and property crime are major contributing factors to the higher-than-average VCSI rating that Timmins receives. Unfortunately, all these things are on an upward trend with the latest statistics gathered by Macleans. However, youth and controlled drug offenses are both down and almost on par with the national average. So, it’s not all bad news for this town that’s famous for two things: the Porcupine Gold Rush and Northern Hospitality.
7. Prince Rupert, BC
One might wonder why Prince Rupert made it on the list of most dangerous cities in Canada with zero murders and a much lower-than-average controlled drug offense problem. It is primarily due to the rampant assault statistics in the latest report. Violent physical assault sits at 2,487.14 compared to the national average of 457.01. This is a shockingly high statistic when you consider that the city has barely more than 10,000 people living in it.
8. Kenora, ON
Between its controlled drug problem and relatively high murder rate, Kenora earns its place on this list. And unfortunately, youth criminal offenses are also up in Maclean’s report. However, the physical and sexual assaults are both down in the latest statistics. Both are still well above national averages, but a downward trend is always good when talking about crime. It’s also worth mentioning that property crime is also on a downward swing and almost on par with the national averages.
9. Winnipeg, MB
As Manitoba’s largest and capital city, one might expect that the VCSI would be much higher than it is. There is no mistaking that Winnipeg can be a dangerous city, but murder and assault are both on the decline. And while youth-related offenses are higher than the national average, they are going down, according to the latest report. One thing worth mentioning is how great of a job Winnipeg is doing to fight drugs. The stats show that the city is well below the national average in all categories.
10. Grande Prairie, AB
While its VCSI isn’t soaring above the national average, Grande Prairie is still struggling with assault, firearms, and drug offenses across the board. To be fair, nearly all these categories have gone down with the latest statistics. There is still a long way to go for Grande Prairie to get even close to the national average in most of these categories. One possible factor to these problems is the transient nature of the population due to oilfield work.
11. Port Alberni, BC
Port Alberni is doing okay on the drug front, as they sit below the national average. However, according to the latest stats, property crime and assaults are through the roof. It’s worth mentioning that almost all the assaults that took place were between people that knew each other (Alberni News). So this city may be relatively safe, depending on what someone is involved in or who they spend their time with.
12. Fort St. John, BC
Fort St. John is another city that is a victim of its transient nature. While the city tries hard to be a family-friendly city to raise little ones, it is struggling with high levels of assault. A positive note for Fort St. John is that we see a slight improvement across the board from assault to property crime to drug crime with the latest stats. Whatever they are doing to see these improvements must be working.
13. Prince George, BC
Beautiful Prince George, nestled in the mountains, but it’s not all beauty beneath the surface. High drug activity makes this city a powder keg waiting to explode. Surprisingly, violent crime like assault is coming down. Still, gun-related offenses are rising, which makes sense when the drug activity is considered. A positive note on Prince George is the relatively low murder rate compared to the size of the city.
14. Brockville, ON
Unfortunately for Brockville, controlled-drug offenses have passed the national average and keep going up. However, other crimes in the drug category, such as cannabis and cocaine, are both below the average and declining. Sexual assault is also on a downward trend, but other violent assaults are not, unfortunately. According to the previous year’s stats, there was one actual murder in the city compared to zero.
15. Dawson Creek, BC
Another small city on the list that struggles with high assault rates is Dawson Creek. Unfortunately, it is going up. One shocking statistic that isn’t violence-related but certainly plays into the community’s safety is impaired driving charges. According to the stats gathered by Maclean’s, Dawson Creek was sitting at 1048.3 charges per capita, which is almost 10 times the national average. It may be safe to walk the streets, but a statistic like that makes us wonder about the safety of driving in the community.
16. Edmonton, AB
Once again, we see a city that one might expect to have a much higher crime rate based on its population. But local police must do a good job because the violent assault is lower than the national average. Unfortunately, sexual assault is not, and that is a factor in the city’s higher-than-average VCSI. Another area that Edmonton is struggling in is its war on drugs. However, the controlled drug offenses are on a downward trend in the latest statistics, which is a positive for this city.
17. Saskatoon, SASK
Saskatoon may not be on the list for much longer, as their efforts in reducing crime have been successful. The city is still well above the national average in most crime categories, but assault and drug-related offenses are all down. The main factors keeping the VCSI so high are higher-than-average amounts of sexual assaults and gun-related crimes. Property crime is also rising, so this is a city to lock your car and close your windows in.
18. Regina, SASK
Another city in Saskatchewan that maintains some success in fighting drugs is Regina. However, violent and property crimes are significantly above the national average, causing the VCSI to stay up. It is worth noting that while assault and gun offenses are up, murders have dropped, according to the latest stats gathered by Macleans.
19. Fort McMurray, AB
Situated in the middle of the Athabasca oil sands, Fort McMurray—or as the locals call it, “Fort Mac”—is another city plagued by a very transient population due to the nature of the work. Over the years, the city has worked hard to clear its name and has done a good job. Drug offenses are all on the decline; except for cocaine-related crimes, they are still well above the national average. Also, the assault charges are declining, but still, almost double the national average. This remains a great place to earn a good living, but careful attention must be given to time spent outside of work.
20. Lethbridge, AB
Certainly, Lethbridge struggles with a much higher-than-average number of assault and weapon offenses, but its real problem is drug activity. And because of this rising drug problem, the latest statistics also show us that violent crime is going up. A common issue typically related to an increase in drug activity is that violence soon follows, which seems to be the picture these stats paint.
21. Victoria, BC
Generally, people relate island life to peaceful and laid back, but this island city has seen less peace than usual based on these new statistics. Physical assault has moved up to almost double the national average. It’s worth noting that sexual assault has gone down a bit, but still remains well above the average. Another positive note for Victoria is that controlled drug offenses have dipped below the national average.
22. Cold Lake, AB
Controlled drugs have become a real problem in Cold Lake, and compared to previous years, they are up again on the latest stats collected by Maclean’s. Physical and sexual assault are both issues as well. Still, they have had zero homicides for another year, which is a small victory. Another positive note is that there were no youth-related offenses recorded either.
23. Red Deer, AB
Red dear is a bit of an enigma compared to many of the cities on this list; the lack of any murders stands out. This is a good thing. However, the danger in this city lies with its rising drug-related crime and much higher average assault and firearms crime. The stats show a decline in these problem areas, but this city will remain on the list until they come down closer to the national average.
24. Toronto, ON
Most crime statistics in Toronto come in around the national average, or even under. But because the statistics are measured per capita, even these lower stats represent a significant amount of crime. That is the main reason this major city makes it on the list. On a positive note, according to the latest statistics, Toronto’s drug crime and firearms offenses are both on a downward trend.
25. Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack’s VCSI is not much higher than the national average. However, they are being included because the latest information shows that just about every category of measured crime has gone up since the previous year. At one point, Chilliwack was in line with the country’s average, but now we are seeing violent, property, and drug crime all climbing above that average.
- See Also: 12 Hottest Cities in Canada
Canada’s Crime Compared to its Southern Neighbor
A sheet of stats showing a comparison between Canada and the United States shows a significant gap in some areas, such as over 40% less crime overall in Canada, or 23 times more murders in the United States (Nation Master). While this may put our minds at rest in some ways, it is essential to note that there are still dangerous areas in Canada, where crime is far from under control.
How to Stay Safe in Canada
Since 2004, violent crime has dropped 28% (StatCan). So, it’s easier to stay safe in Canada in comparison to some other countries around the world, but that doesn’t mean effort isn’t still required to do so. Whether you are moving to a new city, passing through, or staying for an extended visit, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the town or city.
Conclusion: Most Dangerous Cities in Canada
Life is too short to live in fear, and it’s also too short to let that fear keep us from exploring the world around us. You’ve already taken the first step in arming yourself with some knowledge of the more dangerous cities this beautiful country has to offer. Now it’s time to get out there and see it for yourself and stay safe while doing it.
Featured Image Credit: lintow, Pixabay