If you’ve paid any attention to local matters lately, you’ve no doubt read the scandalous news about our dear city: according to Statistics Canada, Saskatoon is now the most dangerous city in the country.
The day before this data was released, I was thinking to myself how safe Saskatoon seems. I’d accidently left my car keys in the ignition, with my car unlocked, for about 45 minutes. After a brief moment of panic, I was relieved to discover that my keys were where I’d left them and so was my car. Coming from a smaller community in Saskatchewan — which is generally regarded as very safe — I was impressed. I felt safe and secure within my city.
Now I’ve been told that Saskatoon is a dangerous place to live. For a minute, I almost even believed it. However, statistics and headlines can only tell us so much. While Saskatoon may have the highest crime rate on paper, the reality is a lot more complicated than just a number. To determine how dangerous Saskatoon actually is, we must examine things on a deeper level.
Much of this depends on which part of the city you’re looking at. According to Statistics Canada, Saskatoon’s crime rate is 8,229 crimes per 100,000 people. The Crime Severity Index, which measures crimes according to the severity of punishment they are given in court, is 123.4 provincially, while the national average is only 66.7.
These numbers make the entire city seem riddled with crime. But these numbers are also just an average for the entire city; different neighbourhoods tell different stories.
Upon examining crime maps from the Saskatoon Police Service, it is revealed that there is a higher concentration of crime on the west side of the city. People often hear stories about certain neighbourhoods; they are warned not to walk alone there at night. A high concentration of crime in one area affects the overall statistic for the whole city, leading people to believe that all of Saskatoon is dangerous.
There are plenty of areas of the city that are considered very safe places to live. These neighbourhoods are now suffering the consequences of a bad reputation that they did not earn.
It’s also worth taking a closer look at the neighbourhoods that are considered dangerous. A statistic cannot tell the stories of the people who live there. Even if an area does have a high crime rate, that doesn’t mean it’s a horrible place to live or work. There are always people who love their communities and want to make them better.
When looking for a solution to crime, it often comes down to how much people care about their communities. If the transformation of the Broadway area and the ongoing transition of Riversdale say anything, it’s clear that positive change is possible. It just takes time, hard work and the dedication of concerned citizens. This is what we should think about when we think about crime in Saskatoon: stories, not statistics.
Appearances can be deceiving. Just because a building is covered in graffiti doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable and just because a city has the highest crime rate in Canada doesn’t mean it isn’t a place worth living. In order to get the full picture, we must look beyond the surface and see what lies beneath.