Ottawa mayor orders ByWard Market CCTV study, asks for report in time for budget talks

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has asked city staff to study the effectiveness and cost of installing a public surveillance camera system in the ByWard Market downtown for three years.

The mayor’s directive, dated July 3 and publicly released on Monday, asked staff to report back on the feasibility of launching such a pilot project in time for the 2020 municipal budget deliberations.

Watson’s request comes as Ottawa police are boosting their presence in the ByWard Market and a few other neighbourhoods in the city on the weekends this summer due to a recent increase in violent incidents, including several stabbings and shootings.

In his memo about the study to city manager Steve Kanellakos, Watson outlined that the goals of a “targeted” CCTV system in the popular shopping, restaurant and tourist area should be to “deter crime and anti-social behaviour” and “improve the ability of the Ottawa Police Service and community to respond” to those types of incidents.

Watson wants the study to include an analysis of how much it would cost to both install and monitor security cameras in “targeted areas of criminal activity and high pedestrian visibility” over a three-year period.

On top of that, the mayor requested “a full review” of any legal and privacy concerns associated with installing a public CCTV system, and that Ottawa police and Crime Prevention Ottawa participate in analyzing that review.

“It should also outline the methodology to be used to determine the effectiveness of the CCTV Public Surveillance Project to determine the effect on enhancing a sense of safety among the public who use Ottawa’s downtown areas, and further to measure its deterrent effect on the commission of crime in the areas under surveillance,” Watson wrote.

The report on the CCTV study would be submitted and considered by the city’s finance and economic development committee, according to the memo.

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