Queen's Park, March 29, 2018 – I rise today to recognize the city of London as the first Ontario city to join the United Nations safe cities project. Led by Anova, a local agency that provides shelter and support for those who have experienced violence, the project is a five-year initiative to create a community where women feel safe from sexual violence and harassment in public spaces, including city streets, transportation and schools.
Last year, a survey conducted by Anova found that more than half of London transit riders had experienced some sort of sexual assault or harassment, especially on routes that served Western and Fanshawe students.
We know that urban planning and built environments have a huge impact on how women experience their cities and neighbourhoods. Dark street corners, poorly lit pathways and infrequent bus service not only put women at risk, but also create barriers to their ability to participate in community activities. Avoidance and pepper spray are no solutions. Women deserve to live in cities that treat them equally, respond to their needs and reduce their risk of violence.
This week, London city council approved the implementation of a digital mapping system to pinpoint areas of the city where people feel unsafe. Once identified, community partners, including residents, local businesses and civic organizations, will work together to tackle the safety problems.
I congratulate the city of London and Anova for their efforts to make London a safer and more inclusive city.