Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Paradise Lost

It was the best city for a kid of my generation, growing up.

I could hop on my bike and pedal anywhere my legs would take me. I would roll through the town houses where I once lived to meet up with my friends, who still lived in that development off Chesterton Drive. My family had moved out of those town houses but didn't stray far, had gone to a bigger house on Chesterton.

We would bike through Parkwood Hills, down the steep hill of Tiverton Drive, along Meadowlands to Prince of Wales Drive, ending up at the little plaza where we would pick up snacks at the Becker's convenience store (now a Mac's), or get ice cream at the Baskin Robbin's (now gone), or, when we wanted a full meal, at the MacDonald's.

I often rode my bike on my own, would go through Hog's Back Park, follow the path that led to Vincent Massey Park, past Billings Bridge, and let that path take me all the way, following the Rideau River, to downtown. The Byward Market, War Memorial, NAC, then along the canal to the Arboretum, Carleton University, and then back up to Hog's Back and home.

Ottawa was safe when I was a kid. I could do that and not once be worried about my safety, beyond the few cars I encountered downtown. I stuck to many side streets, where I was given lots of space.

Ottawa isn't safe anymore. Not for my kids. I wouldn't want them to cycle the distances I did. Stabbings in the Byward Market. Murder outside the MacDonald's near Hog's Back. A shooting in the townhouses off Chesterton Drive.

It's been a record year for shootings and we just saw our twenty-second homicide. Not a lot, by many city standards, but for Ottawa, it's a lot.

I never thought I'd worry about this city. Growing up here for most of my life, this was a kid's paradise. But now, it seems lost.


  1. The news can often provide a distortion on how we perceive the world. It's been difficult to get an accurate picture of the violent crime rate in Ottawa over time. The violent crime rate in Canada as a whole has been on the decline since the 90s. For Ottawa specifically, I was able to find a rate of 621 violent crimes per 100k people back in 2005. In 2015, it was down to 543. While the recent surge in murders, specifically, is unfortunate, I don't think our neighbourhoods are any more dangerous than they were 10 or 20 years ago. I don't say this to dismiss your feelings. Any violent crime, and these murders specifically, should be dealt with and I hope that the city has a plan to deal with these issues and continue to make our city safer for years to come.
    -- Snook

    1. I understand that the overall crime rate is on the decline. There are two things that have bothered me: one, that the peaceful neighbourhoods in which I grew up aren't as peaceful anymore; two, that the number of gun-related violence has increased. My fear is that bullets don't always hit their intended targets.

      Thanks for your comment.