The Coalition Against More Surveillance is a group of Ottawa residents, activists, and scholars who are very concerned about the potential use of video surveillance cameras by the City of Ottawa to monitor areas of the city, such as the ByWard Market and the new LRT stations (and potentially for other heavily policed areas like Overbrook, Jasmine Crescent, Caldwell Avenue, and Montreal Road).
Mayor Watson has called for a feasibility study for a pilot project to install targeted public surveillance cameras in the ByWard Market. This is being done in the hope that the cameras will deter crime and contribute to a safer environment. While we share concerns about ongoing violence in the Market, and in other Ottawa neighbourhoods, we do not think that installing surveillance cameras is an effective or appropriate solution. This is because the evidence shows that:
CAMS hopes to draw attention to our concerns about increasing surveillance in Ottawa, specifically in neighbourhoods that are already overpoliced. These policing and surveillance efforts typically target areas that are occupied by a majority of people of colour, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and/or other marginalized groups. Additionally, many of these communities often lack funding for programs that could address the root causes of violence – such as after-school programs for youth. Therefore, through our public education and advocacy efforts, we will make municipal leaders aware of these concerns and encourage those with decision-making power to divest from this policing and surveillance strategy and instead invest in community programs, services, and supports.
We wish to invite you to join us in voicing these concerns to Mayor Watson and to Ottawa's city councillors. Please use our letter-writing tool below.