The most dangerous cities in Canada are not the first things that come to mind when most people contemplate America’s northern neighbor. Canada is nowhere near as densely populated as the United States and one can drive for miles and miles, seeing nothing but vast and beautiful wilderness, between towns and cities.
Whenever those “best country” surveys come out from time to time, Canada seems to always top the list. They’re like that lovable brother that everyone, even those who stay in a perpetually bad mood, seems to get along with, no matter the circumstances.
However, there always seems to be a balance, whether we’re talking about physical things, cultural, societal, or even psychological. Canada does have its dark side, just like everywhere else. They just happen to have a whole lot of territory to find it in. With that being said, let’s explore the dark depths of Canada’s cities and determine which ones are truly the most dangerous.
1. North Battleford, Saskatchewan
According to Maclean’s, Canada’s most dangerous city is North Battleford, with a Crime Severity Index of 480, higher by far than the number 2 spot on our list. On the bright side, North Battleford is down in the rankings halfway through 2023, though we still have another half to go.
Information flowing from local news outlets, such as Battleford Now, suggests that most of the crime in North Battleford involves property-related offenses. However, homicides are up, along with opioid use and deaths related to the same. Residents of North Battleford saw a 96% rise in opioid-related deaths.
According to local police, the crime statistics placing North Battleford at the top of the list are a little misleading and fail to take in the entire picture. For one, petty and misdemeanor crimes are rampant. Without any context, people think it’s not safe to walk on the street in the city.
The city is also engaging in a more social approach, targeting mental illness, poverty, and drug addiction. However, compared to places like Celaya, Mexico, where the homicide rate is one out of every one hundred people, North Battleford looks downright cheery.
2. Timmins, Ontario
Timmins ranks fourth in sexual assaults, sixth in homicides, and tenth for violent crime, making it one of the most dangerous cities in Canada.
In all other crime statistics, Timmins is a little more on the mundane side of things, if such a word is usable in this scenario.
North Battleford shows a clear, ascending line when it comes to crime statistics. However, Timmins is more of an “all over the place” line. Statistically, it isn’t always the second worst and it’s not always the best.
In 2018, Timmins embraced the North Battleford strategy before North Battleford got around to it, with a renewed focus on the root causes underlying criminal activity. In Timmins, these include mental health issues, homelessness, poverty, and drug abuse. Timmins’ approach is to locate these elements of the population and get them help before they devolve into criminal activity.
3. Prince George, British Columbia
On the Canada Crime Index, Prince George is in the deep orange (very bad) when it comes to increases in non-violent crime, violent crime, and overall numbers. Like this article, the statistics on the Canada Crime Index don’t follow a descending order from worst to better. Not putting them in order makes the dark orange spots stand out against the lower crime rates, represented in pale colors.
According to Macleans, Prince George is a magnet for intransigents. Law enforcement in other areas of British Columbia began cracking down on the drug trade. These crackdowns resulted in a migration of the drug element to a more convenient location—Prince George—turning it into one of the most dangerous cities in Canada.
This change of venue in the drug trade began back in 2010-2011, but the overall effects are still on display today. If nothing else, it reveals an association between drug abuse, facilitated by the drug trade, and a rise in all types of crime, from non-violent to the most violent.
4. Red Deer, Alberta
Red Deer just sounds like the kind of place where the crime label is a misnomer. It sounds like a small town with a country vibe. Indeed, murder is essentially a foreign concept in Red Deer. However, what makes it one of the most dangerous cities in Canada is the violent assault rates, mostly related to drug abuse and gun crimes.
Maclean’s ranked Red Deer the tenth most dangerous place to live in Canada, a fact which the Red Deer Advocate acknowledged. Fortunately, Red Deer’s crime status is declining, with the city ranking second back in 2017 and sixth in 2018.
Like many of the cities on this list, Red Deer is primarily concentrating on the root causes of crime throughout the city. Thus far, it seems to be working, with crime rates dropping on a year-to-year basis. Within Red Deer, the most dangerous places to be are the historic downtown district and South Hill.
5. Surrey, British Columbia
As of April 2023, Surrey is ranked the number one, most dangerous city in Canada. Just five years ago, this was far from the case, with homicides and other violent crimes rising in recent years. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, much of the rise in violence is due to criminal gang activity.
Gang violence isn’t the only contributing factor, however. Property crimes and theft are also on the rise throughout the area. Fentanyl and opioids are the driving factors behind break-ins, store thefts, and violent crimes within neighborhoods.
The crime level rose to such an extent that the city took measures in 2020, creating a new police force (Surrey Police Service) and employing additional officers. The Surrey Metro Centre, Guildford Town Centre, Fleetwood Town Centre, and East Clayton are the four areas where crime is skyrocketing.
6. Lethbridge, Alberta
Lethbridge, though crime rates are dropping incrementally, carried the unenviable label of the worst metropolitan area in Canada for three years straight. The good news is, break-ins and private property theft dropped since 2020. The bad news is that violent crime is still rising.
Like many of the crime issues in the cities on this list, Lethbridge has a terrible opioid problem. The city was also ranked number one amongst cities dealing with opioids and fentanyl crossing the border between Canada and the United States.
Coaldale and Picture Butte seem to be the places in Lethbridge that are the worst off. As statistics usually go, the police response and subsequent crackdown on drug-related offenses create a much larger database, most of which reflects poorly on Lethbridge.
7. Sudbury, Ontario
Like Lethbridge, Sudbury is dealing with a drop in crime and a rise in violent crime. Non-violent crimes, such as vehicle thefts, home break-ins (when no one is home), etc, are dropping slowly, at least since 2020. However, Sudbury recently ranked fourth in homicide rates.
Violent crime, as an overall statistic, is steadily rising in Sudbury, especially within the greater Sudbury area. According to the Sudbury police, the city has the highest violent crime severity index in Ontario and its been that way for two years running.
Gang-related activity, guns, drug abuse, and vehicle theft are the driving forces behind the violence in Sudbury. Guns, depending on several factors, are either prohibited altogether or heavily restricted. Despite this, gun-related crimes doubled from 2017 to 2019 and 2021.
8. Winnipeg, Manitoba
Winnipeg is the last on our list of the most dangerous cities in Canada. They, like Sudbury before it, are dealing with a drop in non-violent crime while violent crimes are on the rise, especially since 2020. Gun-related crimes have risen by 27%, according to CBC News.
The United States, Canada, and Winnipeg specifically, have seen a staggering rise in catalytic converter thefts. Since precious metals go into the manufacture of catalytic converters, stealing and selling them is a lucrative side hustle.
Aggravated assaults and hate crimes are up, however, for a bit of good news, sexual assaults, car thefts, and shoplifting are down over previous years. Homelessness and mental health issues are currently the focal point for local police and politicians.
All Things Considered
Not to underscore the seriousness of the criminal activity in these cities, but it’s important to compare them to other places as well. It’s interesting that Canada, as the northern neighbor to the United States, is the polar opposite of Mexico, the United State’s southern neighbor. Most of the fentanyl coming across the Canadian border originated in Mexico, which has seven of the ten most dangerous cities in the world.
While some of the Canadian cities experienced a rise in homicides in the last year, Celaya, Mexico residents experience homicide rates at 109 for every 100,000. Tijuana, Mexico is only slightly better at 105 out of every 100,000. Of course, the dynamics are entirely different.
When you start comparing governments, geographical associations, cultural issues, demographics, bordering governments, and more, it makes it very difficult to adequately compare two countries, much less the cities within them.
Summary of the 8 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada
|1||North Battleford, Saskatchewan||Crime Severity Index of 480, but many of the crimes are petty and misdemeanors|
|2||Timmins, Ontario||Ranks fourth in sexual assaults and tenth in violent crimes|
|3||Prince George, British Columbia||Non-violent crime is up|
|4||Red Deer, Alberta||Violent assault rates associated with drugs are high|
|5||Surrey, British Columbia||Rise in crimes due to gang activity|
|6||Lethbridge, Alberta||Ranked the worse metropolitan area for crime in Canada|
|7||Sudbury, Ontario||Violent crime is on the rise – ranks fourth in homicides|
|8||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Catalytic converter thefts and violent crime are on the rise|
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