Watson calls for meeting with police chief after violent weekend
Ottawa’s mayor has called a meeting with the city’s police chief in the wake of a violent weekend in the ByWard Market and a drive-by shooting in Kanata.
“Obviously I’m concerned when there’s any violence but particularly when it starts spreading out into the city,” Jim Watson told CTV News Ottawa.
Watson said he’s called a meeting for Wednesday with Chief Peter Sloly and others “to see what we can do specifically to help in the ByWard Market where there’s a disproportionate number of violent activities.”
There were a pair of violent crimes in the ByWard Market over the long weekend. Early Monday morning, a security guard was shot in the leg. Police say the accused also shot at officers while fleeing the scene.
Early Saturday morning a man was stabbed and taken to hospital. Arrests have been made in both incidents.
The violence also extended outside the downtown core. Monday night, a man was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting in the Kanata neighbourhood of Bridlewood.
“Any time you have the kinds of incidents that we’ve seen in Kanata and the ByWard Market this past weekend, it’s not acceptable in a civil society,” Watson said.
Watson said Wednesday’s meeting will be to “come up with a strategy to improve the safety of all parts of our community, particularly in the downtown urban core where most of the violent activities are taking place.”
He emphasized that Ottawa remains a safe city. In an interview earlier Tuesday with Newstalk 580 CFRA, Sloly said the same.
“This city, by comparison to almost any other major city in Canada, certainly in North America, is one of the safest places to live across the board,” Sloly said. “We have not seen any significant spike in violence in any part of our city that would be different from the past five years.”
Ottawa police say, to date, there have been 58 shooting investigations in the city, up from 45 in all of 2020, though Sloly said the level of violent crime in Ottawa is on pace to return to pre-pandemic levels.
"As a trend, we’re seeing relatively the same level of violent crime and victimization that we’ve seen over the last five years, with the exception of 2020 in its totality because of the impacts of COVID," he told CTV News Ottawa in an interview.
There have been 14 homicides in Ottawa so far this year, eight of which were shootings.
Sloly said criminals are moving across the city and settling scores with each other when and where they meet.
"We have very mobile groups of individuals, in vehicles, who are settling their beefs when they come across each other, not necessarily where they work and live and play," he said. "We’re having violent crime in suburban areas, in rural areas, where we don’t necessarily have active gangs; we have active people who are transporting themselves through the city."
Of the recent crimes in the ByWard Market, Sloly said there is more to the solution that policing.
"Much of the violence that we’re seeing in and around the market has very little to do with crime and has everything to do with mental health, addictions, social services, housing, homelessness; there is a crime element of it but it is not what is driving the majority of violent crime and victimization in and around the market," he said.
"We can’t provide every single ward with all the same resources, but we’re committed to making sure that suburban and rural communities who do see incidents of violent crime that are likely unrelated to local conditions can have a sense of a steady presence of a police officer, a team of officers, supported by an organization who can provide additional services and additional protection."
Sloly noted that the events over the weekend were resolved with minimal to no use of force.