The city closed the safety village after a flood four years ago and it has not been used since. ((Giacomo Panico/CBC))

The City of Ottawa says it supports the idea of reviving its "safety village" for children in Britannia Park, although there is no indication how it will be able to pay for construction.

For more than 30 years, the safety village welcomed thousands of elementary students to its grounds. Instructors would use miniature roads, vehicles, bicycles and traffic lights to illustrate road safety lessons.

But the city closed the safety village after a flood four years ago. Now the only visitors to the unused site, which has fallen into disrepair, appear to be birds and squirrels.

"I'm sad. This is a huge missed opportunity," said Sophia Hanafi, executive director of the Ottawa Safety Council, the non-profit group that ran the village from 1995 to 2006.

"I'd like to see [children] once again on the little kiddie-cars or on their bicycles, going down the small main street and learning about different aspects of safety."


Sophia Hanafi, executive director of the Ottawa Safety Council, wants to see the safety village reopened. ((Giacomo Panico/CBC))

The city, which owns the land, is considering whether to reopen the village or move it to another site.

Setting priorities

"Given the success that this village has had, we would like to explore whether or not we could revisit it," said Zlatko Krstulich, a planner with the city. He says the village's mandate would help the city address some of its priorities.

"When we look at improving the rate of cycling, and also cycling safety, you have to consider awareness," said Krstulich.

But getting the site back up and running could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars — money that the city hasn't budgeted for.

Hanafi says it'll be worth that money to provide a hands-on experience for children. Ever since the village was shuttered, her group has continued to teach children about road safety, but only in school classrooms.

"Living and experiencing anything has a much greater impact. If you actually get out there, [and] do it, they'll learn it. And they'll remember it," she said.