A Walker's Community Checklist
The Gloucester City Center Safety Committee was active for the last decade of the
existence of the City of Gloucester (Ontario, Canada). Our aim was that people feel safe
in our community.
Our members included our Councillor, Pat Clark, and a member of the Gloucester Police.
We worked for all people of all ages, visitors and residents. Since our community was
already one of the safest in Ottawa, in turn one of the safest cities in North America, we
focussed on people's feelings, so put on edge by unrepresentative news reports and TV
shows. We succeeded so well that, when Gloucester was amalgamated into the City of
Ottawa in 2001, our neighbours agreed that we had solved all their concerns about safety,
so we did not need to reform under the new City.
Here is a checklist we developed for everyone to use when they went for a
- do I feel safe here?
if not, why not? Trust your feelings.
would I feel safe if alone? with young children? if elderly or disabled?
- is the lighting bright enough day, dusk and night?
are there places where glare restricts vision?
- is the signage sufficient to tell me where I am and where I want to go?
can I easily see where I want to go?
are there places people could be hidden close to where I have to go?
- does the area feel isolated?
would someone be able to see me, or hear my call for help?
how easy would it be to stay away from, or get away from, someone I mistrust?
- can I tell what is at the other end of a passageway?
are there areas where I would be hidden from view?
- are there places I could trip, slip, or otherwise be injured?
is it safe for children? for disabled?
- is there speeding traffic where children play?
visibility blocked where pedestrians cross?
cars driven without regard for pedestrian safety?
- are dogs and other animals that could hurt me on leashes and under control?
Does your neighbourhood fail? Then, find out who has the authority to correct it, and try
to persuade them to do it.
Here is one example - replacing a burned-out light bulb! You see, the light was fastened
to a facility originally built by the City of Gloucester, but maintained by OCTranspo, a
Regional Government of Ottawa-Carleton agency. However, the fixture protruded
beyond the building into land space owned by Ontario Hydro. Everyone claimed that it was
someone else's problem. It was important for neighbourhood safety, as it illuminated part
of the path used by residents of PineView to access the transit system across a mixture of
provincial, regional and city lands. Finally, to make a long story short, we persuaded
Gloucester Public Works to quietly remove the fixture cover's tamper-proof locks that none of
the committee could figure out how to defeat, and to replace the bulb with a self-ballasted
mercury lamp that should work for a decade or more.
Safety comes one step at a time. Safety is for everyone. And, Think it Through.
Safety-related contacts for Ottawa:
- 911 If you believe you or someone
else is in danger right now or has been seriously hurt, or that a crime is in progress, call
911, immediately. They arrange all emergency services, including police, fire
- Ottawa Police 236-1222. Call them to report crimes that have taken place.
If their computer system is too confusing for you, press 0 (Zero, Operator) to reach an
operator. If this doesn't work, you must hang up and try again - their phone system still
has errors in it that leave callers with no answer or a repeated recorded message.
- Our Community Police Center is at 236-1222 local 4347. It is staffed by
volunteers, who provide information on crime prevention, Neighbourhood Watch and
Block Parents. (Most will commiserate with you about the police phone system too.)
Usually you can reach someone there Monday to Friday 9 am to 8 pm, and
Saturday 10 am to 3 pm.
- City of Ottawa: 24 hours a day for all emergency services 580-2400.
(Their phone system works, but it often takes five minutes or more to reach a real person
who can solve your problem.)
- Ottawa Hydro: power-out or street light problems 738-6411.
- Ontario One Call: will call your local utilities to locate buried gas,
electricity, water and telephone lines, at no charge for an individual homeowner, so you won't damage them when you
dig or plant a tree. Telephone lines are often within 10 cm of the surface
- garden depth. (800)400-2255 toll-free 24 hr/day. NOTE: Rogers cable refuses to cooperate with
the province, they have to be contacted separately at Digline (888)344-2407.
- The first few pages of the Bell telephone book provide numbers for other
other notes on community matters