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Invest in Community, Public Transit, Environment - Divest & Disarm Police

by GreenTea, 30 June, 2020

A city that gives me the greatest sense of safety invests in health and well-being of ALL residents (and their communities). This includes spending on social services, education, affordable programming for children and youth, affordable housing, mental health supports (crisis and long-term), public transit, and green spaces AND divesting the police of their excessive funding, weapons and unaccountable power. Universal basic income is something I would love to see in the city of Ottawa.

It's shameful that so much of the city's budget is allocated to police, and the ways we allow use of force by police to avoid dealing with more complex societal issues. At the same time, by not addressing the deeply ingrained violence, racism, misogyny, and other bigotries in police culture, people who need help are harmed instead, sometimes traumatized for life. This is the opposite of safety and well-being. The city can start by immediately disarming police and reassigning police responsibilities to civilians with appropriate training. As for aspects of policing that aren't immediately in the city's control, they can push the provincial or federal governments to take action and make changes.

Building a safe city requires prioritizing the voices and needs of residents that experience discrimination / marginalization by race or ethnicity, ability, gender, sexual orientation, economic or housing status, state of health, employment status.As a personal example, as a woman with a low income who is both a pedestrian and uses public transit, I find that our unreliable bus / train system with infrequent service to no service at off-peak hours, along with road design that prioritizes cars and parking really leaves me feeling unsafe in multiple ways.

If we really want a safe city, health and well-being for all has to be a fundamental guiding principal to all planning and development. Remember that Ottawa city council declared a climate emergency over the past year? Environmental health is an important aspect of a healthy city for all. Whether we're talking about a pandemic or a climate crisis, the damage done to people is distributed unevenly. And once again, those already at risk of harm are the ones who are at highest risk when new challenges come along.

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