Kelowna saw the highest crime rate increase in Canada in 2019

Second highest crime rate

Kelowna saw the highest increase in crime rate across any region in all of Canada between 2018 and 2019. As a result, the region had Canada's second highest crime rate in 2019 next to Lethbridge.

New 2019 crime data was released by Stats Canada Thursday highlighting the jump in police-reported crime in the Kelowna census metropolitan area, which also includes West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Lake Country and Peachland.

The region saw a 24 per cent increase in the crime rate, bringing the rate to 10,747 incidents per 100,000 people. The national average is 5,874. Thunder Bay saw the second highest crime rate jump, at 15 per cent. 

Perhaps more concerning is Kelowna's violent crime rate jumped by 60 per cent, to 1,537 incidents per 100,000 people. This puts Kelowna at the third highest violent crime rate in Canada, behind only Lethbridge and Thunder Bay.

Additionally, Kelowna's crime severity index, which takes into account the volume and severity of police-reported crime, rose by 20 per cent in 2019, the largest increase of any region in Canada.

Kelowna's crime rate increases were due to increases in police-reported sexual assaults, robbery, breaking and entering, mischief, uttering threats, identity fraud and shoplifting.

Stats Canada noted that part of the overall police-reported crime in B.C. “may be attributed to the implementation of new reporting standards for classifying incidents.”

Kelowna also stood out across Canada for the highest rate of opioid-related offences of any region, at 124 per 100,000, compared to the next highest Lethbridge at 95 and Vancouver at 35.

Last year, the Kelowna RCMP came under fire for the unusually number of sexual assaults the police had deemed as “unfounded.” In 2018, the detachment had dismissed close to 40 per cent of sexual assault complaints, compared to the provincial average of 15 per cent.

As a result, the detachment's past cases were reviewed, and 12 previously unfounded cases were reopened.

The 2019 data shows Kelowna's unfounded sexual assault rate was 13 per cent, compared to the provincial average of 12.5.

There were 183 reported sexual assaults in the Kelowna region in 2019, 27 of which were deemed unfounded. The number of reported sexual assaults is almost double the 91 reported in 2018. The 2019 data works out to a little over 83 incidents of sexual assault per 100,000 people, slightly more than the provincial average of 80.4.

Stats Canada noted that the number of police-reported sexual assaults is “likely a significant underestimation,” as these offences often go unreported.

More Kelowna News