Ottawa is generally a fairly safe city; the federal presence within the capital makes the city heavily policed and patroled. However, it's always best to be on the look out--just in case. The areas around the Rideau Centre along Rideau St. at night are sometimes filled with bored teens and wannabe drug dealers. Homeless people also are found along the area. It's usually best to ignore these crowds.
If any unlikely trouble does happen, please contact the Ottawa Police Service or the Ontario Provincial Police. The RCMP (the Mounties) also operate in Ottawa, but are involved more in federal law enforcement. Always contact the local authorities first.
Ottawa is pretty safe all the time but I would suggest (if you are alone) to stay away of the entrance to Rideau center and Ling Edward street past 10:30 pm. There is lots of gangs and they beg you for money, drugs and alcohol!
Other than that it is fine!
Ok, Here is something you have to remember when partying in downtown Ottawa. The Police is not sleeping, They are everywhere and watching and looking for troublemakers. Some folks think they can do and say whatever they want because all the party that?s going on in downtown. Also keep in mind, calling the Police is very easy in Ottawa and does not cost anything. Just call 911 from any phone in case of emergency. Police in Canada in genera is not corrupted, so don't even try bribing them with cash!
On the this image you see the top of a police cruiser at the Byward market.
Ottawa tends to be racist and classist (as you can tell from some of the posts here).
Don't be surprised that if you are black or from Africa you will get treated differently here.
The homeless/mentally ill people never bother you..so no need to worry in the Byward Market. Most of the crimes here have been commited by your average white man (law of averages I guess)
Women, don't walk around by yourself at night...other than that....Ottawa is not a problem.
Some years ago, the city has implemented a bunch of "traffic calming measures" including speed bumps, wavy lanes, extended curbs ... This is usually not a problem, but if the lane markings are obscured by dirt or snow in the winter, or if you are not paying close attention to the road you may be surprised. You will find these in the downtown areas. For example, Bank St has a wavy centre line and blocks of parking on alternate sides of the street. Be careful
Customs were assholes. All they wanted to do was check out who I was. They didn't care what I had. All they wanted was to know about me and my past. They ran background checks and kept me held there for 2 hours.
Good tip be in the middle of the line going thru immagration
Ottawa is a fairly safe city overall. I spent a week around the downtown area (O'Connor St.), and I didnt experience anything bad. There are a few homeless around, and if they ask for money, just say "Sorry, not today" and they'll leave you alone, and usually walk away. Also, there are a few "night girls" around. Use common sense, feel free to walk during the day, there's always tons of business people, and just people in general walking around. However, when night comes, and it's fairly deserted, keep safe, don't go to any deserted dark areas or anything. Enjoy yourself. The fun outweighs crime and bad!
There is a road, Colonel By Drive i *think* that goes over the Rideau Canal leading from west end of downtown to the Byward Market, past the Chateau Laurier hotel and the old CN rail station (now a convention center). Under neath it, there is a walk way along the canal for a little way. There are a few benches to sit out of the sun but it appears that this somewhat secluded area is used by prostitutes for quickies and probably drug deals as well. My friiend and i sat there for a rest in the early evening and were given a few odd looks by men that walked by. I guess we didn't "look the type".... Climb the stairs up to the main road and take the street.
Generally speaking, Ottawa is a fairly safe city; just use your common sense. In particular, be careful about walking alone in the less lively sections of the Byward Market / King Edward St. Area after dark. The market has been cleaned up a lot in recent years, but there are still a number of.. er.. 'ladies of the evening' (you know, the kind of ladies with thigh-high vinyl platform boots?) and their pals hanging around the quieter streets in the northern end of the market. And there are several halfway houses for the mentally disturbed along King Edward, so there are likely to be some interesting creatures hanging around there. Just stay in a group and don't do anything stupid, and you'll be fine.
Ottawa seemed to be really safe, as far as Canadian cities go. There are some street people in Ottawa, although far fewer than other large cities. Be aware that they do exist and can be found begging for money. As always, just be aware of your surroundings and be smart about certain situations.
there's safety in numbers. Just because it's Canada, doesn't mean there aren't crazys walking around. There are plenty and they reside RIGHT downtown in amidst the pretty sights. in the market especially.
When winter changes into construction season, finally the ice will melt, causing a new danger: