Living in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - 4 Safety

posted on Oct 01
Downtown Victoria at night

A lot of people ask me “How safe is it in Victoria?” and express their concerns about going out at night in the downtown area.

My response is always “Victoria is as safe as you make it for yourself”, in other words, just like anywhere you travel you always need to be aware of your surroundings, stay in busy, well-lit areas and be prepared to react to any situation in which you might feel uncomfortable or threatened.

Generally speaking, Victoria is a very safe city, but like any cities of comparable size, we have our share of “issues”, such as homeless people on the streets, beggars, drunken louts outside bars and clubs after closing time, there are drug dealers, drug addicts, prostitutes, pimps, petty criminals, gangs and other ne’re-do-wells.

The global economy has impacted on urban centres everywhere and none of us can escape the harsh realities of the post 2008 economic meltdown.  Poverty and crime seem to go hand-in-hand and since senior levels of government have constantly cut-back on funding for a variety of social welfare programmes, the sights and signs of these decisions are to be found everywhere.

Having said this, the City of Victoria has been doing lots to provide low-cost housing, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities and a variety of levels of policing to keep our streets safe and crime-free.  Sure, you will see homeless beggars and street people everywhere, but no more so than in any other city of our size.

I have never felt unsafe in downtown Victoria; I keep my head up, my wits about me and walk with a purpose. If a beggar approaches me I tell him/her that aggressive panhandling is against the law in Victoria and direct them to one of the local food banks or homeless shelters.  If they persist I get out my cell phone and dial 911, which usually results in them disappearing in a hurry, down a side street or into an alleyway.

So, if you feel uncomfortable in an urban environment, where these types of issues will always be encountered, you may prefer to live, visit in a walled compound somewhere. But if you want to experience life “as it is” in Victoria or, for that matter, in any city in the world, you will need to stay focused on your surroundings and you’ll be completely safe wherever you are.