It is the sort of list where you want to finish near the bottom, as Saanich finds itself in the lower reaches of a list tracking Canada’s Most Dangerous Places.
The list released by Maclean’s Magazine ranks communities according to the Crime Severity Index (CSI), a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, which takes into consideration both the volume and seriousness of offences.The current national CSI is 70 out of 100. This means crime severity is down 30 basis points since 2006, when Statistics Canada set its benchmark. Saanich’s is 40.
Saanich with a population of 117,285 (as listed in the report) ranks 181 out of 229 surveyed communities. Neighbouring Victoria with a population of 104,777 ranks 30th, while Oak Bay with a population of 19,266 ranks 212th.
Ranking the communities of the Capital Regional District, Saanich finds itself in the middle of the pack, below Victoria, the most ‘crime-ridden’ community in the CRD, and ahead of Oak Bay, as well as the trio of Peninsula communities: Sidney (184th); Central Saanich (186th) and North Saanich (225th), which makes the Top 5 nationally.
Looking at B.C. communities of comparable population sizes, Saanich ranks lower than 34th-placed Kelowna (listed population:129,512), 46th-placed Township of Langley (listed population: 114, 940) and 100th-placed Coquitlam (139,055).
Looking at specific numbers, Saanich recorded zero actual homicides during the survey period of 2016, and its homicide rate per 100,000 is zero, with the Canadian average just under 1.7. Overall, Saanich ranks below the Canadian average in every category, often by considerable margins. Consider assaults. Saanich recorded under 273 assaults per 100,000 population, below the Canadian average of 430.
The only crime category where Saanich approaches the national average is the impaired driving rate. While Canada’s average is just 195 incidents per 100,000 population, Saanich’s rate is 177 per 100,000.
Overall, the report notes that crime rates remain near historic low. “Over the past decade the crime rate in Canada has plummeted by 25 per cent,” it reads. “Since 1998, the earliest data available, crime has been cut by a third. In 2016 the crime rate across the country sat at 5,904 incidents per 100,000 people—that’s the second lowest rate recorded by Statistics Canada.”
The report however comes with a proviso. The CSI has been trending upwards since touching a low of 66 in 2013, and a number of communities include three communities in British Columbia (Williams Lake, City of Langley, and Vernon) made the Top 10.