Is West Kelowna a hotbed of violent crime?
If you were to believe Macleans Most Dangerous Cities list, you’d definitely have cause to consider that possibility.
West Kelowna is ranked 69 of 237 Canadian cities.
Kelowna ranked a much safer sounding 148, which is a significant improvement from last year when the rating was 34.
Go back six years and Kelowna gained the dubious distinction of ranking as Canada’s sixth most dangerous city.
Before you pose for a selfie in some Okanagan branded kevlar, remember these stats come from a hodgepodge of data that includes everything from violent crimes and car break ins—the latter of which often bumps Okanagan cities way up the list.
What may be more relevant than methodology, however, is how the rankings alter perceptions.
In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose statistics are used in similar articles on their side of the border, said rankings “lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.”
You could argue we’ve already had “misleading perceptions” getting in the way of this community’s growth.
The Central Okanagan has its fair share of social ills. You’d have to be blind to not have noticed the proliferation of shopping carts belonging to people who have no house to call home.
You’d have to be deaf to not know that there are a ghastly number of people dying from drug overdoses.
But do these things have anything to do with one another? Do they actually create legitimate cause to fear for your well-being?
We don’t think so.
In fact, we think that the erroneous belief that this city is getting more dangerous creates barriers to providing the services needed to help the community’s most vulnerable.
Often, in the run-up to the recent civic election, “homelessness” and “crime” were used interchangeably, when that’s far from the case.
That kind of fearmongering sets a dangerous course for any city.
So let’s look past the rankings and look more closely at the communities they describe.