Abbotsford has officially handed over the title of Canada’s murder capital, with Statistics Canada’s release on Wednesday of the 2010 national homicide rates.
The Abbotsford census metropolitan area (CMA), which includes Mission, is now eighth on the list of 34 CMAs, based on four murders last year – a rate of 2.28 homicides per 100,000 population.
Topping the list with a rate of 4.17 is Thunder Bay, Ont.
Abbotsford was first on the list in the two previous reports, based on six homicides in 2008 and 11 in 2009. So far this year, there have been no murders.
Const. Ian MacDonald said new initiatives focused on preventing gang violence can be attributed, in part, to the drop in the murder rate.
These include the formation of the gang suppression unit in April 2010, which resulted in key arrests of high-ranking gang members and the disruption of criminal activity.
The idea was to make Abbotsford an “unpleasant place to do business,” resulting in fewer gang interactions and violence in the community, MacDonald said.
He said other contributing factors were anti-gang messaging aimed at young people through programs such as Operation Tarnish, Impact and Lodestar, and a community that embraced the need for change.
It all resulted in a community culture that won’t stand for gang activity, he said.
MacDonald said that although police feel good that Abbotsford has moved down the list, it’s “not mission accomplished.”
“The goal wasn’t to lose the (murder capital) title … Our goal is public safety and becoming the safest city in B.C., and we still have some more work to do.”
He said the lure for profit and the demand for drugs will keep gangs in the forefront, and police will need to continue to work on ways to counteract that.
Meanwhile, homicide rates across Canada reached their lowest levels since 1966, with 35 fewer murders in 2010 than in 2009. Gang-related homicides were down for the second year in a row – from 138 in 2008 and 124 in 2009, to 94 last year.
2010 murders in Abbotsford:
– Jan. 21: Tyler Andrew Dziwak, 24, was found stabbed at the end of a driveway on Ross Road and died a short while later in hospital. No suspects have been charged.
– July 21: Amarjit Kaur Khosa, 34, was found in a basement suite on Austin Avenue. Cause of death has not been revealed. Her brother, Harmohinder Khosa, was charged with second-degree murder and next appears Nov. 24 in court.
– July 28: Mandie Astin Johnson, 22, was shot on Polar Avenue in what was believed to be a targeted hit on her boyfriend, who escaped from the scene unharmed. No suspects have been charged.
– Sept. 16: Thavone Na Narong, 49, was shot while leaving a driveway on Charles Court. He is the father of Surrey Six victim Eddie Narong.
One homicide also occurred in Mission in 2010. Trevor Ronald Sanderson, 38, was found in a house on Keystone Avenue on June 28 in what police called a targeted murder. Cause of death has not been released.