High crime rate in Rideau-Vanier is imported: Supporters
Rideau-Vanier may have Ottawa’s worst crime rate, but residents feel their neighbourhood is getting a bad rap.
Outsiders visiting the ward’s bustling entertainment district and using its many shelters are largely the ones causing trouble and skewing the numbers, they believe.
“At any given time, great numbers in the city are in that area,” said Georges Bedard, city councillor for the ward. “If you took out all the people who get arrested in the ward, but really don’t live in the ward, you will see a considerable decrease.”
The ward’s projected crime rate of 16,345 Criminal Code offences per 100,000 residents outpaced second place Somerset ward at 14,278.
But with the popular ByWard Market and a majority of shelters and social service centres in the ward, supporters say the reason the district fares so poorly in police’s ward-by-ward crime report this week is because it sees traffic out of proportion to its population of 47,000 residents.
The perception may be the area is crime-ridden and overwhelmed with drugs, but its boosters say otherwise.
“I can’t say that merchants and businesses have reported to us that there is a really bad drug problem here and it’s affecting our business,” said Suzanne Valiquet, executive director of the Quartier Vanier Business Improvement Association “The answer to that is no.”
Prostitution was an issue in the area, Valiquet said, but increased police activities have made a positive impact.
Bedard said that he has been focusing on community involvement to prevent crime, as well as policing.
“I’ve organized in Vanier and Lowertown east various community groups to work with the various social agencies to work directly on the problem,” he said.
Evan Soikie, with the ACORN-Ottawa Vanier chapter, is not surprised at the area’s crime rate and says he’s detecting a groundswell of people looking to see the problem addressed.
“Vanier has been a growing problem for a number of years,” he said. “We’re finally at the point where we’re starting to take a more proactive approach and really make sure we get people’s attention.”