- Ottawa Lookout
- Police struggle to keep up with car thefts
Police struggle to keep up with car thefts
The police are having difficulty keeping up with the number of car thefts in the city.
Not a bad start to the Canal skating season, was it? Plenty of folks took to the ice, eager for the return of the city’s major winter attraction. Now, let’s just hope the ice holds out.
Sunset over the world’s largest skating rink.😍
A 1.9 km section is open on the #RideauCanal Skateway, between Pretoria Bridge and Bank St. Bridge.
Use the link in our bio to find access points and check ice conditions:
— Rideau Canal Skateway (@NCC_Skateway)
Jan 23, 2024
Today we’ve got the latest from the police board after the board got back to work in earnest, some news on the response to the convoy, plus plenty more.
Let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
Wednesday: -5 🌡️ -4 | 🌧/❄️
Thursday: +2 🌡️ +1 | 🌧/🧊
Friday: +4 🌡️ -2 | 🌧
The trouble with car thefts
What happened: The Ottawa Police Service struggle with property crime continues, as auto thefts rose in the city the past year. The force has been able to recover only about half of the 1,854 vehicles stolen last year, CBC reported.
In 2022, there were 1,289 cars and trucks stolen in the city, with only 32 percent of them recovered, according to the force’s 2022 annual report. The exact tally of how many vehicles were recovered by police in 2023 won’t be available until they table their annual report later this year.
Task force disbanded: There hasn’t been a dedicated auto-theft division in the force since 2017, when Ottawa police shifted their resources to solving gun crime. A provincial task force was also disbanded. There is hope an upcoming federal summit on car thefts can help stem the tide of auto thefts.
Racial disparity: Racialized communities in the city are subjected to police force at disproportionate rates, CBC reported. Black people make up about eight percent of the city’s population, but 25 percent of the police use-of-force reports; while Middle Eastern people make up 10 percent of the reports, while only being about six percent of the population.
While disproportionate, the rates have dropped slightly since 2020 when Black people were subject to 28 percent of police’s use of force instances, and Middle Eastern people 12 percent. For the first time since the force began collecting race-based data in 2020, Indigenous people were not disproportionately represented.
Use of force incidents cover a range of incidents, from officers firing or drawing their guns or tasers. It also includes using batons, pepper spray or their fists.
Pilot program: The force hopes a new pilot program to allow special constables to stay with people brought to the hospital will let them improve staffing elsewhere, the Ottawa Citizen reported. Officers on mental health calls have to stay with someone they’ve brought to the emergency room until they’ve been admitted or cleared. The hope is that special constables will be able to do that duty, letting sworn officers get back to regular duty.
New board leads: The Ottawa Police Board selected interim leader Salim Fakirani as the permanent chair of the civilian oversight body. Coun. Marty Carr was selected as the board’s vice-chair, CTV reported.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
⛸️ 35,000: The approximate number of skaters who took to the Rideau Canal on Sunday, its first skating day since 2022. [CTV]
🩺 167: The additional number of doctors who entered a medical residency program in Canada compared to 2014. In 2023 there were 3,422 doctors entering residency — the final step to obtain a medical licence — compared to 3,255 in 2014. There are an estimated 6.5 million people without a family doctor in the country. [CBC]
💥 The worker in charge of a blast that killed another worker in Cantley in 2022 is now facing charges of negligence and breaching his duty of care. The explosion to clear rock at a residential construction site killed a worker in a nearby excavator. [CBC]
🚒 A kitchen fire in Kanata displaced a total of nine people on the weekend. Five residents and four guests couldn’t return to the townhome because of the heavy smoke from the fire, which spread from the stove to the cabinets. [CTV]
⚖️ A woman in Cornwall is facing charges for allegedly sending her ex-boyfriend’s intimate videos to his family. [CTV]
🌲 While the land the Ottawa airport is on is federally owned, as the leaseholder, the Ottawa Airport Authority can essentially do what it wants with the land. [CBC]
⚒️ A former drug user is planning to open a rehab centre in Maberly to give people leaving provincial custody the support to treat their substance abuse issues. [CBC]
Use of Emergencies Act during convoy ruled unconstitutional
What happened: A federal judge ruled the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act ahead of the clearing of the convoy encampment downtown was unconstitutional, CBC reported.
“I conclude that there was no national emergency justifying the invocation of the Emergencies Act and the decision to do so was therefore unreasonable and ultra vires [beyond the scope of the law],” the judge wrote.
Appeal: The federal government said it will appeal the ruling, and stands by its decision to use the act. The feds maintain the weeks-long protests — both in the city and at other locations across the country — amounted to a national emergency that required the use of the law.
The judge said in his ruling that as the law was written, the protests did not meet the definition of a national emergency, and that therefore the use of the law was unreasonable, CTV reported.
The case: The court case was brought by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Canadian Constitutional Foundation.
“Emergency powers are necessary in extreme circumstances, but they are also dangerous to democracy. They should be used sparingly and carefully. They cannot be used even to address a massive and disruptive demonstration if that could have been dealt with through regular policing and laws,” the CCLA said in a press release.
Different outlook: The Rouleau Commission, the inquiry called to examine the decision to use the law, came to the opposite conclusion. He decided the government was within the law to use its emergency powers. But he wasn’t definitive about it.
“I do not come to this conclusion easily, as I do not consider the factual basis for it to be overwhelming,” he said at the time, according to CBC. “Reasonable and informed people could reach a different conclusion than the one I have arrived at.”
Close call: While the judge ultimately ruled the government overstepped in its use of the act, he said he understood the government’s use of the law. He said while he has access to more information thanks to hindsight, he likely would have come to a similar conclusion as the government and put the law into action in the moment, PressProgress’s Luke LeBrun reported.
Read it yourself: You can find the whole Federal Court decision here.
HOUSE OF THE WEEK
This week’s house of the week is, in fact, a condo. But, I gotta say, this one has a lot going for it. Big living room, working wood-burning fireplace, an updated kitchen, and this close to the Canal? Not bad.
Sure it’s just one bedroom. But at this price, it could be just what you’re looking for.
House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team.
⚖️ Former teacher Rick Watkins was sentenced to two years in prison, and another two on probation after being found guilty of 11 charges, including multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual interference and harassment. All of his victims were students under the age of 16. Watkins, who is also known as Rick Despatie, must also register as a sex offender and is forbidden from contacting his victims. [CBC]
⛸️ Businesses that rent, sell, and sharpen skates are seeing a huge boost from this year’s reopening of the Rideau Canal to skating. [CTV]
💨 The city is considering lowering the idling limit down to one minute, down from its current three minutes. It’s not clear what effect the change in duration would have, as the city rarely issues tickets under the current law, issuing just 10 tickets between 2019 and 2021. [CTV]
🚧 While the snow is finally here and the trails are groomed, the William Commanda Bridge is still closed to the public. Unfortunately, snow doesn’t seem to be staying on the bridge, so it’s unlikely it will be groomed. The city has been resistant to the idea of clearing it for other active use during the winter. [Ottawa Citizen]
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Atlético Ottawa released their full Canadian Premier League schedule, which starts April 13 and ends Oct. 19, with both the first and last games at home. [Atlético Ottawa]
Elevate your mental health this winter: get FREE journaling tips from experts at The Royal. The first 75 participants receive a free journal! [Sponsored]
Have you or someone you’re with fallen through the ice? The Ottawa Fire Service has some tips that could save your life. [Twitter]
We all scream for ice cream, which is why Baskin-Robbins is planning to open 10 new locations across town in the coming years. [Ottawa Business Journal]
Festival season is approaching! The Kemptville Music Festival is set for July, and the Grassroots festival will be in the city in April. [Ottawa Citizen]
Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.
Korean baking talent for dinner or dessert
Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
Capital Eats is written by our food editor Ralf Joneikies.
I first heard about JnJ Bakery from a friend who told me that the baked goods at this Korean eatery were first rate and that I needed to try them.
I made my way to the tire shop in an industrial area out of which they operated at the time, only to find that they had closed operations. There was a note on the door with a telephone number and it was then that I first spoke with baker Sung Hae Lee.
As it turns out, she has a dedicated following and the reasons are many. Courtesy of Melissa, one of our readers, I was put on the right path and for those of her fans who don’t yet know, Sung Hae is back and putting out a full range of her sweets and savouries.
Congrats to everyone who got this week’s Ottawa Quiz! It wasn’t meant to be a trick question, while this is its 54th season, the Canal was opened as a skateway in 1971, 53 years ago.
Do you know where today’s Ottawa Guesser is? The first five people to respond get their names mentioned in the newsletter.
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