In April I met once again with all of the community partners working collaboratively to combat street-level crime and gang-related violence in Bay Ward. The results of that conversation were promising but this remains an ongoing concern that will require the cooperation of everyone involved – including the public.
This April meeting followed a public forum held in February to which my team invited the community at large. At that meeting community members had the chance to speak with representatives from all of the major stakeholders working to build a safer community together.
At the meeting there were many positive discussions about the work being done on the ground to improve relationships between the community and police, Ottawa Community Housing, By-law Services, and organizations like the community houses, Crime Prevention Ottawa, Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Centre and others doing work in the affected neighbourhoods.
Overwhelmingly we have heard from residents that they want to feel safer in their communities and that police and other community partners can help them feel that by being more present on the ground.
Ottawa Community Housing and the Ottawa Police Service have agreed to increase foot patrols in affected neighbourhoods.
The Ottawa Police Service is also increasing patrols in other neighbourhoods where there has been an increase in violent crime or in calls for service.
Other projects under way include improved reporting systems within Ottawa Community Housing Security and better information sharing practices between the Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Community Housing.
Proactive measures have also been increased. These include the installation of a community garden in Britannia Woods, the building of a new playground in Foster Farm and the continued overhaul of Bayshore Park. All of these projects foster positive use of public space which encourages people to take back their neighbourhoods.
When people who live in communities make use of public space regularly and in positive ways it is less likely to be used for anti-social, criminal, or violent behaviour.
These are just some of the results of the ongoing efforts of the community partners invested in reducing violent crime and gang activity in Bay Ward and across Ottawa.
This is not an issue that is exclusive to our neighbourhoods but we all recognize that no one organization or group of people can solve the problem alone, which is why we are all committed to working together to find a solution.
In the 2015 budget the City of Ottawa allocated $400,000 toward a gang exit strategy to help people in our city who are choosing to lead a pro-social life. This is a positive step.