Our political leaders are proud that Ottawa has been named the safest city in Canada for the second year in a row. It’s a tremendous honour, but it’s not exactly what happened. The real news is that more Canadians perceive Ottawa as being safe than any of 14 other cities that Mainstreet Research asked about. That doesn’t necessarily mean Ottawa is safe, just that people think it is.
Toronto, on the other hand, has a very low crime rate, but ranks second-last on the list. Of course, those perceptions aren’t irrelevant. If Canadians think this is a great city, they’re more likely to visit or move here. And Ottawa is a remarkably safe place. But we’re not without our challenges. The crime rate has grown by 5% in the last year. And we’ve seen increasing gun violence, gang activity and drug problems in the last decade.
We don’t yet have all the solutions to the challenges that come with being a growing, more urban city. It’s nice to be known for our safety. But along with celebrating this innocuous distinction, we should refocus our efforts on living up to the reputation.