New District Model Aims To Improve Local Policing

By Wilson Lo, Barrhaven East Councillor

Three weeks ago, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) presented its plan for transitioning towards a district based policing model.

Recognising the challenges posed by the geographic size of the city, different requirements in each area, and the resource draws by events related to the federal government, there is a need for change to improve the OPS’s ability to provide effective service in communities across Ottawa.

To achieve that, the command structure will be decentralised into four new districts, each overseen by a district inspector.

The central district includes the ByWard Market, downtown, Glebe, Vanier, and Westboro. The west district has Kanata, old Nepean, old Ottawa West, Stittsville, and West Carleton. The east district encompasses Alta Vista, Beacon Hill, Cumberland, Gloucester, Greenboro, and the rural east. We will be in the new south district along with Manotick, Richmond, Riverside South, and the rural south.

Last week, I had an introductory meeting with our area’s new district inspector and shared the concerns that residents have shared with me. These include traffic safety, street racing, commercial thefts, car thefts, and general mischief in parks and forests. I also mentioned instances of hate/bias-motivated crimes, including an instance of racist and hateful graffiti found at one of our parks two weekends ago.

I also highlighted a general need for an improved presence in the community, whether it is front-line officers monitoring a stop sign or booths at local community events. OPS are also refreshing their community engagement strategy to improve accessibility, transparency, and cooperation. The inspector also shared the ongoing challenges facing the OPS, including continuing personnel shortages (not helped by the lack of space allocations at the Ontario Police College) and the varying demands of different areas of the city which led to the need for a more locally focused model of policing.

Full transition towards the district model will happen in phases until the full and complete rollout coinciding with the opening of the new police station on Prince of Wales, which will become the south district’s headquarters. Construction of the facility remains on track for a mid-2026 opening.

Changes will not happen overnight, given the phased approach, but as the OPS navigates through the transition and its strategy to fill staffing vacancies, the understanding is a greater focus on community policing with officers who know their communities will lead to more effective, collaborative work and public safety.