Firearm crime dips below average
Despite the city’s urban growth, Ottawa still has fewer gun crimes than the Canadian average and other cities of similar size, a Statistics Canada study has found.
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The report on firearms and violent crimes released yesterday indicates there were 25.5 offences involving guns for every 100,000 residents in 2006, making up 3.6 per cent of all violent crime in the city — less than the national average of 27.5 offences involving guns per 100,000 people.
The city had eight firearm-related homicides in the survey year of 2006, or 0.9 incidents per 100,000 residents. And there were 138 robberies that involved guns, or 15.6 incidents per 100,000.
Generally, Ottawa bucked a trend that saw the highest rates of gun violence in 2006 centred on Canada’s largest cities. Vancouver had the highest rate among all census metropolitan areas (45.3 offences per 100,000 population) followed by Winnipeg (43.9/100,000) and Toronto (40.4/100,000).
"I don’t think we’ve seen the violence in Ottawa that we’ve seen in other cities," said Sergeant Uday Jaswal, with Ottawa’s Guns and Gangs Unit.
Police have taken a community approach to targeting violent crime, Jaswal said, forming partnerships with community organizations, including a diversion program through the Boys and Girls Club.
Waller proposed reasons why Ottawa fared better. "We have less extremes of affluence and poverty than somewhere like Edmonton, fewer young male migrants coming in without attachments that tend to get involved in alcohol and drugs, and less gang presence — at least for the moment."
While Ottawa and Edmonton are similarly sized, firearms use there is three times more frequent.
Firearms use in Canada remained stable for a fourth consecutive year in 2006, but gun crime among young people has increased in three of four years.
To change the trend, youth must be taught to avoid violence and gang involvement while being given opportunities to finish school and receive job training, Waller said.
TRACEY TONG/Metro Ottawa