Pulling on my Anthropology hat for a bit, I actually come down firmly on the side of saying that Toronto is inherently
dangerous. Thing is, something doesn't have to be violent in order to be dangerous. I could, over time, lay out a generally convincing case that there are a number of factors significantly depressing the incident rates of violent crime within Toronto's city limits, a key example being the abundance of green and blue space, and thus access to nature. But it's easy for me to go into too much detail about that, so I'll focus on the rest of my point.
We have several million members of a hyper-predatory species with a heavy psychological (and physiologial) predisposition towards smaller packs crammed into exceedingly close proximity. That's likely going to cause a significant disruption and confusion to our native patterns of behavior, arousing a sense of agitation. It goes without saying that an agitated predator is *always* dangerous. The problem comes from the fact that most of us are too "smart" to admit that we're still simply very much extraordinarily advanced predators, and we like to think that we can continually ignore our baser impulses and instincts. I think the tendencies of children below a certain age to pull on things like beards, hair, or tails of unfortunate companion mammals because they haven't grasped that the act causes pain neatly demonstrates the foolishness of such thinking.
As I am the descendant of both the extreme rural and the suburban environment, I've seen such a divergence due to proximity or lack thereof firsthand. Up at the family farm, which originally consisted of an entire valley of around 2000 hectares near Sault Ste. Marie, the closest neighbor which wasn't a relative or close family friend was about twelve miles away. Where I am currently, it's instead next door. While I'm still commonly leaving my door unlocked while I'm going to get the mail or picking up a pizza at the plaza across the street, I still lock it at night or when going away for extended periods of time. I don't believe my great-uncle ever locked the farmhouse, even when travelling the eight hours to visit the rest of the family.
Looking at all the crime statistics of Toronto and comparing them on a per-capita basis with more remote settlements (for example, Kapuskasing, where my brother lived and worked for 18 months), I'm considering the possibility that the extreme artificiality of the deep urban environment Toronto represents is itself viewed as a threat in the deepest and oldest parts of the human brain. Urban and suburban residents are, at least to me, clearly more paranoid and distrustful than their more rural and remote counterparts, when speaking in broad strokes. Canadians appear to be among the least paranoid and most trusting people on the planet, so it's not like I have reliable subjects to study! :rofl:
My conclusion is that Toronto's crime rate isn't simply increasing, it's also transitioning. Gang activity is rather fascinatingly similar to certain wildlife studies involving significantly disrupted ecosystems, so it seems to me that one factor in the increased visibility of criminal activity is not due to the fact that it is happening more often, but because of the explosive proliferation of cameras and recording technology.
One can argue that New York City is vastly more dangerous and violent, and yet I would still feel rather comfortable crossing Central Park at night - I'd simply study the migratory patterns of the local human wildlife before attempting to do so.