Cumberland Councillor Stephen Blais is calling on city staff to expeditiously develop a comprehensive action plan to support the provincial and federal governments’ efforts in stamping-out gun violence.
“We should have a made in Ottawa action plan to support the provincial and federal governments’ efforts to stamp-out gun violence in our communities,” says Councillor Blais. “As a city councillor, I don’t believe we should shy away or abdicate our responsibility with respect to this crucial issue as the safety of our residents is paramount.”
Blais will bring a motion to City Council to bring a coordinated approach to crime prevention ensuring accountability and the efficient use of resources. The Ottawa Police Service does a wonderful job at enforcing our laws, laws that are getting tougher. A focus on prevention and strong role models is also needed.
Presently, there is no single strategy from which city programs, not for profit organizations and the Ottawa Police Service are working. Moreover, there is no group responsible for implementing the strategy or measuring its effectiveness.
“By ensuring our crime prevention measures are centrally coordinated we can ensure the programs are being run where they are needed most and are doing the most good. The kids who are gang-bangers were not born wanting to be this way,” says Blais. “Posters of athletes on their walls have been replaced with guns in their hands.”
In 2011 there were 23 gun-related incidents in Ottawa. In the first half of 2012 there have already been 27 incidents of gun related violence in the City.
“What parent, when they hold their child for the first-time, says I want my baby to grow-up to be a thug who shoots and kills,” adds Blais. “They are this way because there is not enough character or discipline in our society and now there’s gun violence in our communities. We’re not doing enough to teach our children well, but we can and need to do better.”
In addition to requesting an Ottawa Action plan to prevent gangs and gun violence, Blais is proposing additional measures to help make our communities safer. Specifically, Blais is calling on the Ottawa Police Service to offer a gun amnesty program to try and get illegal guns off our streets. Gun amnesty programs were held in 1992, 1994, 1997 and 1999 and 2006. Between 1992 and 1999, approximately 2,400 firearms were turned over to police for destruction.
Blais will also be asking for a review and update of the City’s discharge bylaw, which has not kept pace with urban expansion. Millennium Park in Cumberland Ward, where hundreds of children play every day, currently falls within the area of the City where it is permitted to discharge firearms.
Further, Blais will be seeking to create a new zoning designation for shops that sell guns and ammunition. While the City has zoning rules to define strip clubs and drive through window’s there are no provision specifically relating to firearms.
“Let me be clear, I am not asking City staff to venture into areas of provincial or federal responsibility, more importantly, proposing any ideas that target farmers or hunters,” adds Councillor Blais. “We can implement a gun amnesty program; close loopholes where guns and ammunitions are sold and ensure that the discharging of firearms does not occur where children study or play.”
Finally, Blais will be calling on the provincial government to amend the necessary legislation to ensure violent criminal cannot make use of the taxpayers generous funding of public housing.
“People living in public housing have a tough enough life and so we should not subject them even further by living side-by-side with gangsters, who have no respect for life,” adds Councillor Blais. “The provincial government should allow us to ban thugs, convicted of serious crimes, especially ones involving guns, from living off of the taxpayer in public housing.”