Northdale violence reflects centralization of local security
Since October 2011 there has been over a dozen instances of violence within minutes of campus. Although most of these occurrences have been concentrated in the Northdale area, its indirect effects can be felt throughout the tri-city region. People feel that, while the frequency has not changed significantly, the nature of these encounters have become more dangerous. Victims have increasingly reported involvement of firearms and knives in altercations and this has caused fear to escalate. With Waterloo’s student population continuing to increase it is inevitable that it will clash with local crime systems and create a market for more to flourish.
It can be argued that crime in the Northdale area is linked to its inefficient use of land. Like other communities of “affordable housing,” financial sustainability is difficult unless land-owners crowd as many complexes together as possible. This results in an unbalanced ratio of space used for housing versus space used for things like shopping centres, libraries, recreational facilities, city parks, etc.
With this imbalance of infrastructure the community is centralized into various hotspots for daily traffic. For this reason, local security also concentrates its efforts to make the safety of these places a priority. Alternatively, areas outside of these centres tend to be neglected in terms of both maintenance and police presence.
There can be no question that these increases in violence bring attention to a growing issue in safety. Unfortunately, this problem will probably not improve in the near future given the reality that Waterloo universities are still expanding and security is only bound to get more concentrated.
Students must change their perceptions of Waterloo as a city and become more conscious of the changing circumstances in their local environment. For individuals who grew up in smaller towns, a sense of communal security could be an obstacle in overcoming naivety and staying safe while living here. Anybody can be a victim of violence and students cannot assume that local security is perfect.