Safety Considerations for Expats in Vancouver
Overall, Vancouver is a very safe city to visit or in which to reside; violent crime is very rare but has been on the increase lately. When such infrequent crime does take place it is nearly always gang-related, pertaining to targeted victims (not random violence but people specifically involved with gangs and crime). Terrorism is also unknown. Thus there is little cause for alarm and you should feel quite safe and secure in Vancouver, most likely much more so than the place from which you came. Vancouver is also a very safe place for children, with far less crime against children than in many developed cities around the world. Generally speaking, Canadians are very protective of children, and won’t stand for violence against them.
There are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind with regard to safety in Vancouver:
1. DON’T go to Stanley Park (or any secluded and/or forested area) ALONE after dark (there are rare but documented cases of violence against women in such places).
2. DO stay with your children when in public places (such as the mall, grocery store, etc.).
3. DO teach your children to cross the street only at pedestrian crosswalks and to look both ways before stepping out (many Vancouver drivers are in a big hurry and don’t always stop for pedestrians, as they should).
4. DON’T walk through the Downtown Eastside (DTES) after dark, even in a group (Gastown is exempt as it is an up and coming trendy area with lots of nightlife), unless scenes of homelessness and drug addiction don’t bother you (your personal safety will not be at risk but you may witness open drug usage and/or come across drug paraphernalia strewn across the sidewalks, and you do not want to come in contact with used needles).
5. DON’T leave anything at all in your vehicle, day or night, even if parked in front of your residence (except insurance and registration papers, owner’s manual, etc.).
6. DO lock up your bicycle properly when out in public (stores, university, SkyTrain stations, etc.) using a U-lock; many a lone bike wheel has been left behind when the entire bike (minus the front wheel where it was locked to the bike rack) was stolen.
7. DO keep your purse/bag close (in front where you can see it) when walking through densely crowded areas (downtown, malls, etc.).
8. DON’T take out your wallet or open your purse if there are homeless people in the vicinity.
9. Be polite when driving—reserve your horn usage for dangerous situations.
10. DO try to avoid being in SkyTrain stations alone after dark (particularly women and children); these are usually very safe—they are also monitored by TransLink—and there are usually plenty of people around, but sometimes rowdy groups of youths hang out at more secluded stations and have been known to harass people (keep in mind the designated waiting areas and the red emergency phones if you feel your safety is being compromised).
11. DON’T go to parts of Surrey after dark.
12. When on campus at UBC or SFU, DO remember the Safe Walk program, which escorts you to the parkade and around the campus at night (co-ed teams of two)—UBC. You can also contact security services immediately if you feel your personal safety is at risk at any Blue Phone, located all over the campus: https://security.ubc.ca/
Having said all this, it is worthwhile remembering that Vancouver has been voted one of the safest cities in the world, and you are far less likely to encounter crime here than in many other places. This is why Vancouver is one of the world’s most livable cities, and why you can rest assured that you and your family will be very safe and secure while living here.