'It's gotta stop': Council takes aim at making Edmonton safer for women
Councillor calls out catcalling, street harassment downtown
Edmonton city council is on a quest to make the city safer, especially for women.
Council on Tuesday approved a new initiative that directs city administration to work with Edmonton police and citizens to come up with a system for sharing data about sexual and verbal harassment and assault.
The initiative may involve the city's 311 citizen report line and technologies such as apps that people can use to report unsafe areas and figure out why they are.
Coun. Bev Esslinger said she's heard from many women experiencing harassment.
"It's gotta stop."
The findings will be used to make choices on infrastructure, enforcement and education.
"If we're finding a place that needs lights, let's get lights there."
Esslinger said another key focus of the initiative is to try to change attitudes toward women.
"Catcalling downtown? Is that acceptable?" she asked. "Women in our city are choosing not to go outside when there's a construction shift changing, to go and sit in their car until the men have moved. In our city."
Along with sexual assault and harassment, she said there's also a high rate of domestic violence in Edmonton.
Esslinger's motion was inspired by discussions at an international conference held in Edmonton in October, called the UN Women's Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls.
- Cat calls and dark streets: Women talk about making street safer at UN forum
- Edmonton exploring how to make public spaces safer for women
Mayor Don Iveson helped Esslinger with the motion, which passed unanimously at a council meeting Tuesday.
"We haven't always built cities with diverse perspectives in mind. In particular, women's voices have been been ignored," said Iveson. "I firmly believe that when cities are safer for women and girls, they are safer for everyone."
City administration is asked to report to council in early 2019 with strategies on improving safety.