Abbotsford, B.C., is Canada's murder capital -- again
For the second year in a row, a suburban B.C. city has clinched the dubious distinction of being Canada's murder capital.
The census area of Abbotsford-Mission, east of Vancouver, had the most homicides per capita in the country last year, according to a new Statistics Canada report.
Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Winnipeg ranked second and third.
The agency reported 610 murders in Canada in 2009. There were nine murders in Abbotsford in 2009, six of which were gang-related.
The report said gang-related homicides fell 10 per cent from the year before, but still represented one in five homicides.
But Abbotsford may not be in for a three-peat win, if police there have any say. So far there have been four murders this year and police believe their prevention efforts are paying off.
Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald told CTV News the force is attributing the bulk of violence in 2008 and 2009 to gang violence and gang activity, something the city has taken great lengths to curb.
"Obviously with the creation of gang suppression unit that was the focus of the Abbotsford Police Department to do something about the criminal element that was sort of running rampant in our city," he said.
"And I think that we've addressed that from the standpoint of enforcement."
After peaking in the mid-1970s, the national homicide rate generally declined until 1999 and has been relatively stable ever since.
Last year, homicide victims were most likely to be stabbed. Here's a breakdown of how the 610 people were killed:
- 210 by stabbing
- 179 by shooting
- 116 by beating
- 43 by strangulation or suffocation
- About two-thirds of the firearm homicides were committed with a handgun
Most victims knew their killer
Manitoba led provinces in its overall homicide rate, followed by Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest rates.
Another B.C. city took a prominent spot on the list. Vancouver tied with Toronto for the highest rates of homicides committed with a firearm last year.
Handguns remained the most common type of firearm used during the crime, followed by rifles and shotguns.