Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe called the Saturday night shooting that left two people dead and six injured outside a south Ottawa wedding reception "shocking" and argued it backs up his push to devote more police resources to fighting gun crime.
"It's very concerning, and it's shocking frankly, when you hear about a shooting of this nature happening in the south end of Ottawa," he said in an interview on Monday. "My thoughts are with all the residents in that area. It must have been very, very disturbing to them to hear about this event."
Police provided no further information on Monday about the shooting, except to say that investigators continue to pursue all leads and to ask for anyone with information to come forward. As of Sunday, they had announced no arrests in the shooting, which occurred outside the Infinity Convention Centre on Gibford Drive in the Uplands neighbourhood.
The killings are Ottawa's 11th and 12th homicides of the year, according to police. Sutcliffe said Ottawa remains a safe city and such violence is rare. According to the most recent data, released by Statistics Canada for 2022, Ottawa had the sixth-lowest crime severity index of 35 metropolitan areas in Canada.
But Sutcliffe said residents have repeatedly expressed concerns about safety and security.
"Ottawa is, relatively speaking, a very, very safe place to live, but any event like this is deeply troubling and even one event is one event too many," he said. "So we have to put more resources behind this and we have to devote more of the police budget to fighting guns and gangs in our city."
Ottawa police are set to give an update on the 2024 budget preparation at the next meeting of the police services board, set for Thursday. They have already released survey and consultation results that they say suggest most residents want an increased police presence in the city.
At last month's meeting, deputy chief Steve Bell proposed creating 75 more officer positions by 2026.
Gang connection still being examined
Police have not explicitly stated that there is a gang connection to the shooting, though they have not ruled it out and told CBC that "all investigative angles are being explored."
Irvin Waller, an emeritus professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, said the shooting on Saturday indicates that we have to "be much more concerned" about how to combat violence across the province.
"This requires action at the provincial level," he said. "Yes, it requires action in Ottawa. We've had a steady number of homicides each year, between 10 and 20 for some time, which maybe half of those are associated with street gangs."
Waller said it's especially sad because "we know what to do," since there are street outreach programs supported by studies that reduce crime. He said the police have a role, but they aren't the only or even the best way to reduce homicides.
"We certainly haven't been doing the things that have been known to stop them," he said. "And I think it's time for a city like Ottawa that is so proud of being safe — and where these sorts of incidents really scare us — it's time for us to have a clear, smart policy based on a good diagnosis, inspired by the things that have worked."