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The survey, which polled 2,050 Canadians between Aug. 14 and 18, asked respondents’ perceptions of safety of 15 of Canada’s largest cities, with 38 per cent believing Calgary to be unsafe, making it fifth highest for level of crime anxiety. Even though Calgary saw both its crime rate and crime severity index score decrease over the past year, only 54 per cent of those surveyed believed it to be a safe city, with another eight per cent unsure. Edmonton watched both of those crime indicators rise (by six per cent and three per cent respectively) over the past year, but those polled actually improved their opinion of the city’s relative safety compared with a similar survey in 2016. Of those polled, some 33 per cent feel Edmonton is unsafe compared with 57 per cent who feel comfortable walking the streets at night. Mainstreet pollster Quito Maggi explained that because it’s a national survey, participants can often be influenced by both traditional and social media reports of sensational crimes, which more than anything else may be responsible for perceptions that don’t necessarily match up with reality. “The findings are interesting. Even though Edmonton has high crime rates and the crime severity index is higher than Calgary, it’s seen as safer across the board,” he said. “What we found is that in all the provinces were we have two cities, it’s often where the seat of government power is that has higher perceived safety.” The poll had similar findings in Ontario, where Toronto boasted the nation’s lowest crime rate but was deemed the second most dangerous city in Canada behind Winnipeg. In Saskatchewan, even though Regina’s crime rate was the country’s highest, it was still considered safer than Saskatoon. Maggi said often the news coming out of capital cities, both national and provincial, relates to government decisions, leaving the other cities to attract national attention for high-profile crimes, which may help shape those perceptions.
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