A new poll shows significant differences between official crime rates and perceptions of safety in major Canadian cities.
The Mainstreet poll released Wednesday looked at the largest cities in each province, for a total of 15 communities.
Regina and Saskatoon rank at number one and number two when it comes to police-reported crime rates in Canada.
However, the survey showed Canadians view Winnipeg as Canada’s least safe city, with the Manitoba capital placing 15th on the list.
Regina placed ninth and Saskatoon was 12th.
Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said he wasn’t shocked by the difference between the crime rate and perception of safety.
“I’m not surprised. We do community perception surveys every second year,” he said.
He said because residents are kept up-to-date on the type of crime occurring, it helps them feel safer.
“If people understand it, I think they’re more comfortable.”
Bray added he doesn’t believe it gives residents a false sense of security, but for many perception is a big part of reality.
With 74 per cent of respondents saying they viewed it as a safe city, Ottawa topped the poll.
Toronto was the city with the biggest gap between perceived safety and actual crime rate.
Canada’s most populous city had the lowest overall crime rate of any of the communities listed in the poll.
However, with 52 per cent of respondents saying thought it was an unsafe city, Toronto ended up as the second-least safe city in Canada in the eyes of those surveyed.
He noted in a media release that provincial capitals tended to be viewed as safer cities than their counterparts, with Toronto being the only exception.
Maggi suggested that extensive news coverage of the security preparations for the Canada 150 celebration may have contributed to the high number of people who viewed Ottawa as a safe city.
He added media concentration also played a role in perceptions of relative safety.
“A single violent crime that occurs in Toronto or Montreal could have dozens of media mentions and potentially be shared on social media hundreds or thousands of times, while the same crime in smaller urban centres does not get the same amplification effect,” he wrote in a media release.
The Mainstreet/Postmedia poll surveyed 2,050 people across the country between Aug. 14-18 using both landline and cell phone numbers. The sample was selected to reflect the country’s demographics based on the 2016 census. The poll is considered accurate 19 times out of 20, with a margin of error of +/- 2.16 per cent.