Voices of Residents

The concerns of community members and organizations

Concerned social service provider:

"Some clients I support have abusive partners, family and exes that work in law enforcement, security or IT. These clients worry that video footage (or the threat of video footage) could be used to stalk and manipulate them. It's hard enough as it is to manage private information on social media and personal smart phones, but public cameras mean that going outside becomes recorded. We know cameras don't prevent abuse or violence. So what are we actually trying to do here? Who will have access to this footage? Who is actually made safer by this footage? I don't see how this would help my clients feel safe."

Overbrook homeowner:

"My neighbourhood deserves connection and belonging, not further trauma from surveillance and stigma. Increased Ottawa police presence is violence; increased criminalization destabilizes lives and families with long term health repercussions. If my neighbours are struggling, I want them to receive care and meaningful support. I want to hear city leadership responding to events with an intelligent investment in social infrastructure, I want community not criminalization."

Manor Park homeowner:

"I live beside Vanier and I’m tired and angry about seeing police mistreat my neighbours. I struggle with the consistent stories of unnecessary physical and psychological violence from marginalized people - including homeless teenagers - in my work. If I engaged in any sort of violence - words or actions - I would be fired from my job. I too have been in situations while working with certain traumatized people where they have expressed violence and have never had to resort to violence myself in order to contain and de-escalate. I get paid less than $60K a year as a social worker and my caseload is daunting - and demanding. Yet, I am able to treat people with dignity, even when they are unable to show respect towards me. I want police to stop using power to intimidate and punish, and instead use it towards systemic advocacy (ie push for more affordable and liveable housing) and show care while doing their well paid job."

Vanier business owner:

"Investir dans une communauté, c'est investir dans son bien être, autrement dit c'est investir dans des services qui ameliorent la qualité de la vie. Le problème ici c'est la pauvreté, je me demande donc comment un gouvernement peux-t-il justifier un investissement dans une mesure aussi deconnectée du réel problème que l'installation de caméras de surveillance? Qui est-ce que ça nourrit ou loge une caméra? Comment se fait-il qu'entre-temps nous devons nous battre pour que des investissements soient faits dans des programmes sociaux, y compris le logement abordable, des programmes qui ont montré leur preuves? À qui profitent ses caméras? Une chose est sure, les programmes sociaux profitent à tous lorsqu'ils sont créés pour prévenir les lourdes conséquences de la pauvreté, notamment le crime, l'itinérance & un état de santé précaire! Il est temps d'investir là où ça compte, là où nous aurons des résultats."

Overbrook resident:

"Please don’t turn my neighbourhood into a digital gated community."

Central Ottawa business owner:

"There is no evidence increased surveillance will have any impact on community safety. And there is no authority or service that could guarantee it would not be misused."

Centretown resident:

"Surveillance doesn't really help communities - we need more social programs that build & engage our communities, that gets neighbours talking to each other & looking out for each other."

Byward Market community worker:

"We are in the midst of a housing crisis. The funds used to surveil should be allocated for stable, affordable long term housing. Evidence has shown connection not alienation heals communities."

Ottawa resident:

Research demonstrates they harm rather than help communities. Also, they are generally dystopian and creepy!

Ottawa South resident:

It doesn’t make us safer in a securitizing world. CCTV is an after the fact measure, which violates our privacy rights. Multiple studies have shown that CCTV doesn’t impact violent crime.

Centretown resident, ByWard Market worker:

Because surveillance never made anyone safer and policing is a band-aid solution to social problems; it’s an infringement on our rights to free assembly without government intrusion and doesn’t address the real issues of rising unaffordability and social disaffection.

Ottawa South resident, MA Criminology student:

They are costly, reactionary tools that are proven to fail in their intended goal of deterring harms in communities.

Strathcona Heights community leader:

I say no because there is no evidence that has shown how using mass survellience prevents crimes from occurring and it is a poor use of public money. To spend money to appease a small portion of the population to only criminalize another small portion of the same population is extrememly problematic to me.

Manor Park resident and college professor:

It doesn’t actually make the community safer or healthier or feel less afraid. It also targets the kind of crime that I don’t care about - the crime I care about stopping relates to corporate greed, not someone seeking a gram to a friend!

Irvin Waller, Emeritus Professor, University of Ottawa and author of Science and Secrets of Ending Violent Crime

Yes City Council needs help to get to know the evidence on what is effective and cost effective in reducing violent crime significantly - consistent with Canadian commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 16.1. One action is to review the budget like Ecology Ottawa does on the climate crisis but from a violence prevention perspective.

Vanier resident:

We should have the right to go about our day without being followed. While the market/and the City are a public space, that shouldn't mean that our every move should be under surveillance as we go about our day. The government and the city have no need to have that information.

Ottawa resident:

Jim Watson's push for CCTV is a direct result of three gun killings in the Market earlier this year, despite the fact that it has been repeatedly proven that CCTV does not act as a deterrent against violent crime. Mayor Jim Watson has been quoted saying that he supports "exploring the installation of CCTV cameras to enhance the sense of safety among the public and to improve the ability of Ottawa Police Service to respond to crime." This would indicate that the money used for a CCTV pilot would passively provide an illusory sense of safety rather than provide a pro-active measure against violent crime in the Market. I don't understand the thought process of City leaders who are happy to erode the privacy of Byward Market residents and patrons while providing zero benefit in the fight against the crimes that initiated interest in CCTV in the first place.