Canadians think Halifax is among the safest cities in the country but its nearest provincial neighbours think otherwise, a national opinion survey says.
The Mainstreet/Postmedia poll included nearly 4,300 Canadians, 53 per cent of whom said Halifax was a safe place.
A further 28 per cent said it was unsafe, and 19 per cent were unsure.
That placed Halifax as the seventh-safest city in the eyes of Canadians.
However, of the 400 Atlantic Canadians surveyed, only 49 per cent said Nova Scotia’s capital was safe, with 44 per cent calling it unsafe. Three per cent were unsure.
David Valentine, spokesman for Mainstreet Research, says Halifax does quite well.
“Nationally, it’s the seventh safest,” he said.
“When you look at Atlantic Canada, things get more nuanced. It falls two places to ninth, and only St. John’s is lower. There is definitely a shift.”
According to Statistics Canada crime statistics for 2015, St. John’s has a crime severity index of 74.1 and a crime rate of 5,885. Moncton has an index of 78.5 and a rate of 6,771.
Halifax has a lower CSI and crime rate than both Moncton and St. John’s — at 62.8 and 4,819 respectively.
Moncton ranked third in the survey ranking of safest cites.
Charlottetown did not appear on the Statistics Canada report, but the Mainstreet Research survey showed 78 per cent of people in Atlantic Canada thought it was safe.
“They say perception is reality. We wanted to see what people thought of their friends and neighbours. Crime is a good proxy,” he said.
“In Edmonton and Toronto, people think crime is increasing, though stats say otherwise.”
Valentine was surprised that people were so tough on Winnipeg, with 59 per cent believing it was unsafe.
Attitudes about the Maritimes were also surprising.
Ask people in Central Canada about the Atlantic region and far more were unsure.
“They just don’t don’t know what to think,” he said.
“One trend we noticed is polling cities believe their own provinces are either markedly better or worse than they are. Atlantic Canada sees more stories about crime in Halifax and St. John’s. They’re more in tune to what’s going on.”
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said in an email that “perceptions of safety are important because they inform behaviour, but they do not provide a full picture. For that we rely on crime statistics, which indicate violent crime is decreasing in Halifax.”
For that, he credits a crime reduction strategy by Halifax Regional Police and RCMP.