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The dreaded Z-word: Is Ottawa prepared ?

If I waited until next Friday, you might mistake this column for someHalloween gimmick. The time has come to discuss a matter other urbanaffairs columnists won’t touch: Zombies.

If I waited until next Friday, you might mistake this column for some Halloween gimmick. The time has come to discuss a matter other urban affairs columnists won’t touch: Zombies.

“No such thing” is a simplistic argument, and cold comfort should we find ourselves facing the significant security, health and sanitation challenges presented by an outbreak of the living dead.

For all we know, they’re already here, arguing politics on the Internet or shambling out of government offices at 4 p.m. on the dot, much as they did in life.

Zombies are an urban issue, not the least because cities contain large, tightly packed populations of the potentially undead. As a metaphor, they embody the city dweller’s fear of societal breakdown, contagion, and having one’s brains eaten. And yet, the Z-word seems completely absent from the City of Ottawa Emergency Management Plan. We are on our own.

I know a surprising number of people, though, who have given the matter some thought, mapping out hiding places and escape routes, choosing weapons and supplies. It helps to have a plan.

Last year, the University of Chicago’s Zombie Readiness Task Force managed to secure $5,000 in university funds to bring in speaker Max Brooks, author of the “humour” bestseller, The Zombie Survival Guide.

Our finest local minds are working on the problem as well. Mathematicians from Carleton and Ottawa U earlier this year published When Zombies Attack! Mathematical Modelling Of An Outbreak Of Zombie Infection.

The authors explored various anti-zombie strategies. I get a little lost in the math, but the conclusion is clear: Destroy all zombies.

“An outbreak of zombies infecting humans is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead,” they write. This vital research was conducted with the help of an NSERC Discovery grant, an Ontario Early Researcher Award and funding from MITACS.

Meanwhile, less scholarly efforts continue among the living to understand the undead. This Sunday at 3 p.m., the lifeless husks of the damned — and costumed wannabes — will gather outside Beechwood Cemetery for the Ottawa Zombie Walk, a relentless, moaning march to Parliament Hill.

Next Friday, Babylon presents Zombie Strippers. The organizers note, “This is, as always, a discrimination-free event in a safe space. Leave your hang-ups at home, please.”

That’s very important. Remember, zombies may have previously been anybody. It can happen to anyone, so it’s everyone’s problem.

Except the zombies, who seem remarkably carefree. Stay safe out there.

 
 
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