Vancouver is proud of it’s status as one of the most livable cities in the world. We do admit to a drug and homeless problem, though we like to think of this as being limited to the downtown eastside of Vancouver. However this year we have been plagued by news stories of homicides and shootings.
No one wants to think that our little paradise is actually a dangerous and violent place to live. So is it true?
Yes, there have been 20 homicides so far this year. This is two more than the 18 we had in the whole of last year. Almost all these crimes have been gang related. The news stories used code words such as “targeted hits” or “the victim was known to Police” to indicate that another gangster hit has happened. Not surprising when you consider that BC is a major source of marijuana. Illegal drugs, like bootleg booze in the 30’s, attracts crime. And our proximity to the major market s of the US means that there will be turf wars.
With gangs, comes guns. Vancouver is the worst metropolitan area within Canada as far as gun crimes go. There were 43.5 crimes per 100,000 people in Vancouver. The average in Canada as a whole was 27.5 and Toronto had 40.4 per 100,000 population.
If we look at BC and Vancouver in the larger context of Canada and the rest of North America, a somewhat different picture emerges.
Rates of homicide per 100,000 of population, show BC as better that some of our western neighbours and our big neighbour to the south.
- B.C. 2.5
- Alberta 2.8
- Manitoba 3.3
- Saskatchewan 4.1
- USA 6.3
The figure for the number of homicides by city gives a similar picture:
- Vancouver 18
- Montreal 29
- Toronto 70
- Seattle 30
- Los Angeles 381
- New York 523
Since I come from the UK, I had a look at the statistics from there, specifically from London where the Metropolitan Police crime statistics show in the last 12 months there were 156 homicides. There were also 2,175 gun enabled crimes and a staggering 173,860 violent crimes against the person.
Crime is news here. Perhaps more so than in other places where violent crime is more common place. I doubt that people here feel happy about the level of crime we see, but for someone who has lived in London, I certainly feel a lot safer here than I did in London. My sense in London was that violence was just under the surface and could erupt from anyone at anytime. Here gang violence exists and will do so as long as there’s money to be made from the drugs trade, but it is not something that touches the everyday lives of most people.
Vancouver Police Department Crime Statistics