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Northern mayors applauded for idea of shuttle bus on Highway of Tears
The Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) is applauding the recent recommendation by Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach and his council that public transit be put in place along the Highway of Tears, the 800 kilometres of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
Families and friends of victims and many others across the entire province have long been urging that options need to be created to provide an alternative to hitchhiking on this isolated stretch of road.
Mayor Bachrach's commitment to increasing safety for women and girls is well known in the area and it is heartening to hear him stepping up and speaking out once again about taking practical action to address the epidemic of violence against women and girls.
His actions are a great example of someone acting on the fact that violence against women is everyone’s issue and impacts us all.
This is exactly the aim of a current public awareness initiative by EVA BC and the BC Lions called “Be More Than a Bystander” that is reaching out to men and urging them to speak up to break the silence on violence against women.
EVA BC has taken the issue of women’s safety on Highway 16 to the BC government in recent years, outlining our views that there should be coordination between public safety and the minister responsible for highways.
We received a reply one year ago from our Minister of Justice, Shirley Bond saying she had “…asked Ministry staff to contact staff from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to help identify potential opportunities for collaboration in addressing safety for women and girls on the highways, particularly along Highway 16.”
To date, EVA BC has not received any further correspondence on this from government.
We encourage the Union of BC Municipalities and all British Columbians to acknowledge the prevalence and scope of this issue, provincially, nationally and around the globe and recognize that violence against women and girls is indeed an issue that impacts all local governments in our province.
Immediate action is needed to create safe, affordable and accessible transportation, as is attention to other urgent issues such as access to community based services once someone has been hurt, the need for safe, affordable and accessible housing and the need for more education and training in the area.
The issues surrounding violence against women and girls are very complex and the solutions require discussion and coordinated action with the family and community members of murdered and missing women, local community based anti-violence services, Aboriginal leadership and leaders in the systems.
“Violence against women is everyone’s responsibility and once more folks really understand this, like the Northern mayors, the more chance we will have in solving this epidemic”, said Tracy Porteous, Executive Director of the Ending Violence Association of BC.