I just spent five beautiful days in Ottawa. I walked everywhere, day and night, and felt safe. I do not know what it means to feel safe in Winnipeg. Especially downtown. Between the aggressive, in your face panhandlers, the drunks with their abusive language and in-your-face-attitude and the stabbing in the daytime at bus stops, Winnipeg has become a cesspool of lowlife street scum. And I know people are screaming about the police budget. But, you get what you pay for.
I walked everywhere downtown. All through Byward Market, Parliment Hill, parks, streets and by homeless shelters. Ottawa has three homeless shelters in the Byward Market area. Yup, there were panhandlers, but they said please and thank you as you walked by. They did not slur drunkenly in my face or became aggressive as I said no thank you and walked on. They did not call me a bitch, they did not follow me and they did not become aggressive in any way.
I walked in the dark, in the day time and in the twilight. I saw homeless people during all of my walks, but not one followed me or threatened me in any way.
Downtown is a vibrant, moving chrysalis of activity at all hours of night. They have great cafes in hidden areas, outdoor markets, fabulous boutiques you cannot find in the ubiquitous malls and great, personal, fantastically gorgeous one-of-a-kind articles of anything you may wish to purchase.
They have fruit and vegetable markets, streets closed or monitored to traffic, pedestrians walking everywhere, dogs on patios and in stores, and, butchers, bakeries, and open window cafes. Sure, there were business buildings there, but they are not the focus. Business is the focus. People are the focus. Cafes open 24 hours are the focus. Foot traffic is the focus.
Having a eco-diverse Hydro building? Not so much.
Green space is everywhere. Dogs are everywhere. In one of the many parks there were tight rope walkers, couples laughing and enjoying the sunshine, people reading, or napping under trees and kids playing. In the middle of downtown.
CANADA 150, which I could not partake in because of stupid Brain Splatter Injury (BSI) had free exhibits, moving art, and wonderful tree sculptures all over the area where I was within a five mile radius and it was all FREE. The parliament buildings had a light show every night. Gatineau, Quebec had the exquisite MOSAICANADA gardens which were outstanding and had rave reviews, Byward Market had light sculptures and moving sculptures you could sit in too peddle as the lights told a storey on the screen. All free.
The people are friendly, even if English is not their first language. The culture is really diverse with many ethnic communities represented and sitting in a French restaurant speaking in English is welcomed. I have never seen more fashionable people, people well-dressed, including the men, than in Ottawa. I saw people riding bikes with Yoga mats, just coming from work. I saw young and old people, children and dogs.....I think I mentioned dogs.....
The community is vibrant, colourful, ethnically diverse and interesting. I spoke to my cab driver who was from Africa and immigrated here 20 years ago. He has been to Winnipeg, Calgary and the US. He has no desire to live anywhere else. WHen he first moved to Ottawa he was terrified of the police, given his culture in Africa where he came from, but after a year realized the police in Canada are intelligent, polite and want to serve their community. He said he would not live anywhere else. He drives a cab for a living and lives in Ottawa, and has no regrets. He says it is the peace and tranquility that keeps him in Ottawa. He walks in the middle of the night along the canal and feels safe.
Say what you will about politics, bilingualism, and taxes. I would gladly give up my house to move to a place that offers me peace and safety. And where I can fly home to the Netherlands.......