South Keys Deserves Better

Headline writers in Ottawa need a lesson in map reading. The peaceful south end community of South Keys suffers all too often from media reporting of criminal activities occurring outside rather than inside its borders.

Case in point: South Keys double shooting kills man, injures woman. Thus blares the June 7 edition of Your Community Voice: Greenboro/South Keys, a journal that by its very name surely ought to know better. The story in question describes a May 27 incident in which a man tending a barbecue was fatally shot on Patola Private off Cahill Drive. This location is, however, in Greenboro, not South Keys, as it lies east of the Albion Road which marks the boundary between these two communities. So why didn’t this community paper call it a Greenboro double shooting?

Fall day in South Keys

Fall day in South Keys

This was but the latest of many media reports in recent years identifying violent crime activities with South Keys. It seems that reporters, either from ignorance or sheer laziness, like to use the term for anything that happens in the south end of the city,

One of the worst examples was an Ottawa Citizen story some years ago which proclaimed: South Keys, Bayshore areas top spots for gang activity, report finds. Few details were given in that city report but a police inspector attributed much of the problem to armed gang members’ involvement in distribution of crack cocaine and in prostitution of young girls. The report incomprehensibly identified the South Keys area as bounded by Bank Street, Heron Road, Russell Road and the railway right of way.

Wrong. First of all, South Keys is entirely south of the railway tracks that run east-west north of Johnstone Road. The name “South Keys Village” was coined by the Campeau Corporation in the mid-1960s to describe a housing development in the south part of the city between those railway tracks and what were then the southern city limits at Hunt Club Road. The South Keys housing development was entirely within a triangular piece of land bordered by Bank Street, Johnstone Road, and Albion Road. Heron Road and Russell Road are miles away! The Campeau property did include the site, on the west side of Bank Street, of the South Keys Shopping Centre which was not built until 1996. Development of the area east of Albion Road between Hunt Club and Johnston Roads was called Greenboro.

Sadly but truly, shootings and gang violence have erupted in once-placid neighbourhoods throughout the city of Ottawa, and many too close to home no matter where we live. Yet let those in our news media be carefully accurate in pinpointing where these frightening incidents occur. Just as residents of areas as prominent as Rockcliffe and Alta Vista would strenuously resist being named hotbeds of crime and violence, so too should lesser communities undeserving of such damaging generalities. Painting specific neighbourhoods without cause as hubs of violent behaviour is totally unwarranted and harmful to their reputation, let alone property values.

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