What is the Drug Crime Capital of Canada?

War on Drugs by https://www.flickr.com/photos/00dann/

by Dann Toliver / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Canada’s generally seen as more lax on the subject of a war on illegal drugs than America, but that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t banned substances.  Thus, while cities such as St. John’s aren’t just winning the fight but prospering as a result, Kelowna ranks among the worst cities with respect to Canada’s war on drugs.



Kelowna By Darren Kirby (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kelowna by Darren Kirby / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Kelowna has seen a 42 point increase in drug-related crime, far and away the highest and worst such increase in the Great White North.  That’s not just a big increase—it’s more than double the increase of its nearest “competitor,” as the next biggest jump on the list would be Saguenay, which locks in at a comparatively-paltry 19 point increase according to the StatsCan crime index.  That 42 looms all the larger given that Canada, as a whole, has generally seen drug-related charges and criminal activity drop in recent years, with the country as a whole reporting a 2 point drop on that particular index.

Kelowna likewise hasn’t been without its share of drug-related stories which make their way into mass media.  In 2012, an enormous drug bust was conducted and turned up enough material to make as much as 200,000 pills of ecstasy, worth millions of dollars in the drug trade.  As reported by Jennifer Smith of the Kelowna Capital News, this was “one of the biggest, if not the biggest, MDMA (methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine) bust ever in British Columbia,” to say nothing of the rest of Canada.

And the problems don’t stop there.  Production of MDMA, as reported in Smith’s article as well as other sources pertaining to the creation and distribution of ecstasy, is often linked to organized crime, as the materials and chemical processes are so expensive that they generally warrant such organization.  As any fan of Breaking Bad knows, there’s a big difference between just a few rogue drug dealers and an organized criminal conglomerate.  The difference between Breaking Bad and the situation in Kelowna, of course, is that the former was entertaining while the latter is simply concerning, and not at all the kind of PR image befitting somewhere as scenic as this B.C. city.

It’s not “just” a drug problem, either, which is seeing Kelowna go the other way from where it wants to be when it comes to its placement on the crime index.  In subsequent years, Kelowna has seen drug-related violence, including a rise in homicides.

That’s a major problem, and one that Kelowna is working to combat.

Let’s hope they succeed.


St. John's

St. John's by Carlb

St. John's [Public Domain]

On the flip side of that equation is St. John’s, the sparkling capital of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Where Kelowna is a somewhat younger city, St. John’s can trace its origins back to the 16th and 17th centuries, thereby allowing it to stake a claim as being arguably the oldest surviving city in North America.  Like a fine wine, it’s just gotten better with age, with a vibrant art community downtown and al the prestige and sight-seeing opportunities you might expect from such an old city.  And, oh yes—it’s also consistently ranked as one of the cleanest and most crime-free cities in Canada.

Despite a recent uptick in violent crime in the past few years, drug-related crime is down a whopping 19 points in St. John’s.  That makes for the biggest reduction per-capita in the whole of Canada.  In fact, this is consistent with a larger drop in overall crime in St. John’s, as reported by the CBC last year, which is not just commendable but exemplary.

It isn’t all sunshine and lollipops for St. John’s, though.  That same report made note of the fact that aforementioned fact of violent crime being slightly up in the city.  Nevertheless, the St. John’s police department was commended by the RNC for their work, and the drastic decrease in drug-related crime has only added to its appeal as a tourist attraction.  When you have a city with so many glistening neighborhoods, a classy museum and theatre district, and the kind of prestige of St. John’s, that’s no small victory. 


While St. John’s may not quite be Heaven on Earth—after all, what place is, or can be?—it is certainly prospering, and its excellent crime index rating is certainly a factor.  On the other hand, Kelowna, a beautiful city, is nevertheless “going direct the other way” when it comes to the war on drugs.

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