WINNIPEG – We are Canada’s least safe city – at least in terms of public perception.
A new poll that looks at people’s opinions rather than the actual statistics, shows Winnipeg as the only city where a majority of Canadians view it as an unsafe place.
Fifty-six per cent of the roughly 4,000 people surveyed said they didn’t think of Winnipeg as a safe place. They were asked to rank their opinions of 15 cities across the country.
Those numbers are interesting because they don’t match up with the actual data from Statistics Canada. They show that our Crime Severity Index is actually lower than Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon.
David Valentin is with Mainstreet Research, which did the poll. He says the data doesn’t really back up people’s opinions.
“There’s plenty of other cities that actually are much more dangerous. More serious types of crimes are happening in those cities,” he says.
Valentin says most people in the prairies ranked us okay when it came to safety but people in Atlantic Canada and in Western Canada see our city as unsafe.
When it comes to changing people’s perception of our city, though, University of Manitoba criminologist Rick Linden says that’s a very difficult task.
“We could get to the lowest crime rates in the country, and folks out in Windsor and Quebec City would still be thinking of Winnipeg as a high crime place because the average citizen doesn’t really get into the data. They may hear stories or read about a violent crime, and that kind of fixes their perception for a long, long time.”
One way to change peoples’ mind, according to Mayor Brian Bowman, is to have more people visit the city.
“The perception and the reality, there’s a lag. What I’ll be really interested to see is how those perceptions change over the coming years. We know that, when people come here, we know their perceptions improve.”
Ottawa scored the best in the survey with seventy-two per cent of people believing it to be the safest city in the country.