Crime in Michele Heights

Crime in Michele Heights
Posted on December 18, 2014 | Alex Cullen | Written on December 18, 2014
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Author's Note:

Author's Note:

I live in nearby Belltown (across Carling Avenue from Michele Heights) and know the community well. In fact I was walking down Roseview in Michele Heights the evening when a barrage of shots were fired on Penny Drive a block away - very scary! As a City Councillor I have wotrked with community groups and agencies in dealing with Michele Heights community safety issues, and pushed at City Council for a more holistic approach to dealing with social problems in high-risk communities.

Police Inspector Hartley (Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 17/14) is bang-on when he says "Solving youth gang crime a community responsibility, not just a police matter", in reference to the spate of shootings in the Michele Heights area in Ottawa's west end. While the installation of surveillance cameras and increased police patrols - initiatives coming out of a stakeholder agency meeting recently held by Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor - will act as a deterrent, these actions alone will not solve the crime issues in this (or any other) community.

Part of a community strategy to combat youth gang crime must involve better co-ordination and focus from the City's agencies: not only Ottawa Police but also Ottawa Community Housing, Ottawa Public Health, the City's Social Services and Recreation & Culture Departments, Crime Prevention Ottawa, and partner agencies like Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, Youth Services Bureau and the Boys & Girls Club. The City does have the Community Development Strategy model, which is intended to co-ordinate activities in high-risk areas, but this has become top-heavy and ineffective in achieving its objectives. It needs to be re-tooled and given measurable objectives, like reducing youth unemployment in these high-risk neighbourhoods.

We are told, however, that the activities in Michele Heights are part of a drug war. This opens the door to a larger conversation about drug use in our society, as certainly the consumers of these drugs do not all live in these high-risk communities. If some of these drugs were treated as controlled substances, as marijuana is in some jurisdictions, then the scope for criminal activity becomes reduced.

With a federal election looming next year, this is as good a time as any to start thinking and talking about this. Crime, as the Inspector says, is a community responsibility, not someone else's.

About The Author

Former OBE Trustee (1982-88), Ottawa City Councillor (1991-94), RMOC Councillor (1991-97), MPP Ottawa West (1997-99), Ottawa City Councillor (2000-2010). Economist, former Policy Analyst NHW (1982-91), former... More