An online petition has been started with the hopes of bringing more police presence to Barrhaven to prevent excessive speeding and street racing at night in the community.
The petition, posted on change.org, was started by Barrhaven resident Lynn Lyons. The petition is directed at the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, Mayor Jim Watson, and local Councillors Jan Harder and Carol Anne Meehan.
Lyons said that while Barrhaven is a great place to live, it is growing rapidly with a population of 87,000 and more houses being built. She added that there is even an Amazon warehouse and a Costco in the community, but there is no dedicated police station in the community and little police presence. Because of the lack of policing, she said issues have started to arise.
“Barrhaven has many long roads – Greenbank, Strandherd, Fallowfield, Jockvale, Woodroffe, Prince of Wales, Paul Métivier – which leads to a large number of excessive speeding on them at night, every single night,” Lyons wrote on her petition. “They are even speeding on roads meant for local traffic, many of which are residential and 40 km/h. We are tired of it. The noise disturbs the usual quiet of the area, interrupting evening activities, waking us and our family members up in the middle of the night. And most importantly, excessive speeding is very dangerous. These roads are not meant to be a nightly race track like they are being used now.”
The problem with speeding and stunt driving in Barrhaven is nothing new. Complaints took a sharp turn upward in the spring of 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It reminds me of being at a NASCAR speedway,” said Kelsi Ashfield, who lives next to Strandherd Drive, in an interview with CBC in May. “It’s loud, it’s obnoxious, it’s dangerous. They’re racing each other. They’re stunting, too, so you can hear the tires squealing. They’ll stop at the red light and you can hear them revving their engines, and as soon as it turns green they’re taking off.”
In the same CBC feature, Barrhaven resident Donald O’Connor, who lives near Woodroffe Ave., said he would like to see speed cameras installed.
“Someone’s going to get killed. That’s how I look at it, and police can’t be everywhere. I wish they were, but they’re not,” O’Connor said.
Woodroffe has been another problematic street for stunt driving and racing. In an incident last year, one driver was charged for driving 243 km/h on the street.
Police say that the problem with racing and stunt driving is not limited to Barrhaven. In 2019, there were 186 people charged with stunt driving in Ottawa. That number jumped to 455 in 2020. While 2021 is not driving, according to police, has been the reduction in traffic since the onset of the pandemic.
In May 2020, Ottawa Police service initiated Project Noisemaker, aimed at reducing speeding and stunt driving. The project wrapped up in September. In the first eight months of 2021, there were 2,206 people charged through the program, including 176 with stunt driving.
Regardless of the numbers, Lyons said it is not enough.
“Complaints to OPS and to Councillors haven’t done much,” Lyons said in her petition. “Police will do a blitz for part of a night and speeders will get caught. But once the police are gone, they come back out and are racing all over again. We need a dedicated police presence in Barrhaven to take care of this issue before people are hurt or killed. These people need to be charged with stunt driving and have their cars and licences taken away. They need consequences for their dangerous actions.”
To electronically sign the petition, look for the link by clicking here.