GBV, SHE-covery, and empowering women

Talking with Katherine O’Neill from YWCA Edmonton and Jan Reimer of Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS)

L I V E talking about GBV, SHE-covery, and empowering women out of this crisis!

Talking with Katherine O'Neill from YWCA Edmonton and Jan Reimer of Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS)

Posted by Bev Esslinger on Thursday, June 25, 2020

Edmonton Transit Announces A Gender-Based Approach

On March 12 at Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) announced their unique gender-based approach to further enhance transit safety and security, with a focus on women and girls.

ETS will be one of the first transit agencies in North America to use gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) to enhance safety and security for riders. This tool looks at how different genders and diverse people experience policies, programs and initiatives. ETS will also be connecting directly with community groups and agencies, like the Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE) and the ETS Advisory Board, to better understand root causes of safety concerns, particularly for women and girls.

ETS will continue to implement safety and security-related changes to further improve safety for customers, employees, and communities in Edmonton. Taking a holistic approach to safety, ETS will incorporate GBA+ processes, customer journey mapping, and community stakeholder engagement into further planning.

As part of the City’s participation in the United Nations Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative, we will focus on including diverse perspectives using a GBA+ lens in the work focusing specifically on women and girls. By improving safety for women and girls, we will further enhance safety for everyone.

In consultation with WAVE and the ETS Advisory Board, ETS heard feedback that a text alert feature, to discreetly report safety and security concerns, would help further enhance transit safety. As a result of this feedback, as well as findings from the 2018 UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders’ Forum, ETS is working through a full analysis to introduce a text alert feature this summer. Text alerts would go directly to the ETS Control Centre.

Safety and security is always the City’s top priority. ETS provided an update in October 2019 that included sharing the positive results that have been achieved over the last year since an investment in physical and workforce security features such as Operator shields, security guards and upgrades to LRT Stations and Transit Centres. Positive results include a 52% reduction in mischief/vandalism at transit centres and LRT stations, a 25% reduction in crime on transit property, increased perception of safety since last fall, improved surveillance and reporting, and additional support for employees.

Update On Residential Speed Zones

Over the past few years, my colleagues on Council and I have heard an overwhelming request from communities asking that we look into lowering speed limits in residential neighbourhoods.

As a result of the feedback from many residents, discussion, research from administration, and because Edmonton is a Vision Zero City, Council is deliberating on whether or not to change speed limits in neighbourhoods to 40km/h throughout the entire City so that every community can become safer or lowering speed limits in the city’s Core Zone to 30km/h. We are considering these decisions because we want to use all the tools in our toolbox to keep road users safe, no matter the method they interact with the road.

We recognize that some neighbourhood collector roads were designed to be driven faster than 40km/h, and so, we will be looking at them on an individual basis and adjusting them accordingly.

Making changes to infrastructure and traffic-safety culture takes time, however, we will begin the process by implementing the 5 E’s of traffic safety:

Engagement: We want to make sure we hear from residents and make a plan based on feedback and best practices. We began looking into this plan because of the many residents who have contacted us over the years asking for speed limits to be lowered in residential neighbourhoods.

Education:Along with any new changes to our bylaws it’s important that we teach drivers and other road users about the new rules and allow time for adjustment.

Engineering:We want to build roads in a way that will encourage people to slow down naturally. We will continue to add safety elements such as crosswalks and flashing lights where needed as well as look into other speed reduction options.

Enforcement:Once there has been a time of adjustment we will begin to enforce the new rules for those who refuse to comply using photo radar. Council cannot direct the police, however, EPS will conduct their own enforcement.

Evaluation: We will look at how everything is working and make tweaks where they need to be made while listening to residents’ concerns.

We are still in the process of collecting feedback. If you would like to share your thoughts please feel free to register to speak on the city website.

Traffic Safety Is Speeding Up

The issues around traffic safety are coming before council again in February. Safety will be at the center of this discussion and it is important that we are all aware how very complex it is. We have heard from residents consistently that safety in neighbourhoods is important.

The challenge in this is, of course, everyone supports safety but no one likes to be inconvenienced. As this issue comes to council in February, this is going to be a challenging conversation, the priority needs to be common sense spending with fiscal restraint. Balancing the approach to safety with residential speed, with more crosswalks, left-turn lights, and other methods of control.

Safety is the priority. Speed limits are an important aspect of traffic safety because speed is an undeniable factor in the frequency and outcome of every collision. Slowing down while driving gives drivers more time to react to the unexpected and helps them to avoid collisions. Reducing residential speeds can contribute to safe, livable streets and help us reach our goal of Vision Zero. Reducing speed limits can make our streets calmer, quieter, and safer for people walking, biking, driving, and enjoying their neighborhood. This impacts the quality of living all over our great city.

Currently, the City is considering 2 different approaches to reducing speed limits. The first, a default speed limit of 40 km/h for residential roads throughout Edmonton. The second, a default speed limit of 30 km/h for residential roads within the Core Zone, made up of the neighborhoods in central Edmonton. Stretching from 118th Ave to 61st Ave and 142nd St to 75th St.

The City is also considering reducing speed limits on main streets such as Whyte Avenue, Jasper Avenue, and other high pedestrian areas.

We know your time is important and the City’s goal is to make changes that have very little impact on trip times. Don’t worry, the speed limits on major roads you use to get around the city are not changing.

Your input is valued and any adjustments to the existing speed limits will require final approval by City Council. You have a voice and it is valuable! You can provide your input on speed limit changes on February 26. This is where Administration will present information on each approach to Council at the Community and Public Services Committee.

You can find more information at edmonton.ca/safespeeds.

Winter Is Upon Us!

Winter is in full swing which means the Holiday season is upon us and we are knocking on the door of the New Year! It’s an exciting season!

But, once the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping has died down, once we’ve recovered from the chaos of Black Friday, holiday parties, and in-laws, what do we do with our time?

Edmonton is a winter city. We have big winters. This means we always have great options to get outdoors and have a blast with tons of family-friendly options and activities.

Here are just a few of the amazing and fun things available for family-friendly excitement in January and beyond!

Triple Down Terrain park Competition Series

A fun freestyle competition for all ages! Rabbit Hill Snow Resort (January 19), Sunridge Ski Area (February 9) and Snow Valley Ski Club (March 3) host this series to encourage riders to try different parks, each with unique features. See participating hills for full details.

FIS World Snow Day – Jan. 19, 2020 / 10am – 2pm

International Ski Federation’s ‘Bring Children to the Snow’ day. There will be giveaways, hot chocolate, an obstacle course, scavenger hunt, and plenty more!

Winterruption YEG – Jan. 23 – 26, 2020

The first annual Winterruption YEG festival! This is going to be a great multi-venue festival filled with indoor and outdoor music and arts!

YEG Hot Chocolate Fest – Jan. 31 – Feb. 16, 2020

Is there anything better than an incredible cup of hot chocolate in the middle of our coldest months? Enjoy hot chocolate treats at various cafes throughout the city with funds raised going to Easter Seals of Northern Alberta.

Front Yards in Bloom: Winterscapes! – Feb. 1 – 17, 2020

What better way to spend time outside with the family and kiddos than getting creative with our most abundant resource in winter; SNOW! Embrace your winter creativity with #FYIBwinterscapes! Brighten your neighbourhood by making a wintry wonderland with lights, plants, snow, and ice!

There is so much to do in our wonderful city in the winter! From happening at our local rec centres, to Community League functions, and outdoor skating all around Edmonton, there is truly something for everyone this winter. Now get out and enjoy this epic season!

Family Violence

Family violence impacts everyone, not just the victims and the perpetrator. It has been said that family violence doesn’t discriminate; it’s not limited to a particular economic or cultural segment. It affects us all.

The repercussions are emotional, physical, financial and spiritual.  It destroys people’s sense of wellbeing and safety at home, work and in the community.  

There is a significant ripple effect in the workplace and the community.  It is a pervasive social issue, but there is hope and we all have a role to take. Social change doesn’t happen overnight; it’s going to take time and collective effort.  

The statistics are sobering:

  • Alberta has the second highest rate of self-reported spousal violence
  • Women continue to report more frequently than men experiencing family violence
  • Annually the Government of Alberta spends $65 million on crisis services

 ( Family Violence Hurts Everyone: A Framework to End Family Violence in Alberta)

The City of Edmonton, along with its community partners, has a long history of

being an integral part of family violence prevention. This effort was strengthened in 2015 when City Council approved the Gender-based Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Initiative.  At that time, we pulled together key stakeholders and what we heard has guided efforts over the last four years. The goals were clear in:

● Reducing domestic violence and sexual assault in Edmonton.

● Creating awareness of, and increase understanding of gender based violence

● Engaging key stakeholders  and those with lived experience including leaders from educational institutions, non-profit organizations, all orders of government and the private sector to be involved in identifying ways of building awareness and knowledge to all demographics on the issues and impacts of gender based violence.

● Identifying ways to engage men and boys about their role in ending gender based violence in our community.

Our aim is to make the city safer for women and girls in all their diversity.  This will create a city that is safe for all. 

It’s Time Edmonton has been working to build awareness and start conversations. This is being achieved through several projects:

  • This Is What It Feels Like 
  • Edmonton Safe City – a partnership with United Nations Women and Government of Alberta (Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women)
  • Coasters for Consent
  • SafeCityYEG

You are part of the solution. Learn more at: itstimeyeg.ca/

Shift Report

Two traffic safety conferences: bringing learnings from around the globe to Edmonton

Edmonton was privileged to host two international traffic safety conferences this past week. The International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety (ICADTS) Conference happens

once every three years and, in its 65-year history, this is only the fourth time it has been in Canada. More than 200 people attended from 33 countries to learn about the latest research on impairment and traffic safety. The second conference was the 11th Annual International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety. Sessions covered many areas of traffic safety from infrastructure to enforcement. 

These conferences brought together delegates from the areas of municipal government, traffic and transport psychology, public health, medicine, economics, law and law enforcement, public policy, education, pharmacology, toxicology, forensic science, human factors, and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation.

Traffic safety conferences are important because people with a passion for saving lives and preventing injuries get together to share research and successes. They develop networks of people they can reach out to when they are looking for ways to tackle the complex issue of traffic safety.

I am delighted that the success of Vision Zero in Edmonton at reducing fatalities and serious injuries has caught the attention of people around the world. Our own traffic-safety experts shared what Edmonton is doing and learned what is working in other places. No traffic fatality is acceptable, and we have a long way to go, but Edmontonians are on a path to zero fatalities and serious injuries. 

My thanks goes to the people who organized these traffic safety conferences and to the many people who work to make our roads safer for everyone.

My thoughts on Residential Speed Limits

There has been all kinds of discussion surrounding what to do with residential speed limits, its coming back to Council on May 14th.  Making our City safe is a priority, but I recognize and have heard from many that whatever we do it needs to be simple, consistent, cost effective and that we need to …

Vision Zero

A few years ago we realized as a City that we needed to take action to ensure that no matter which way that individuals and families use the road, or interact with it, they know that they will be safe. We unanimously decided as a Council to implement Vision Zero. The Vision Zero program involves many areas working together to achieve the goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2032.

In 2018, the City installed pedestrian scrambles at busy intersections on Jasper Avenue, on Whyte Avenue, and around Ice District. We added 65 feedback signs informing drivers to stay within the speed limit, which now totals 215 across Edmonton. We invested in rapid flashing beacons, zebra crosswalks, reflective pole wraps, and no-left-turn signs for 27 schools areas. We improved signals at 19 pedestrians crossings and made existing traffic signals easier to see at 12 other intersections.

And it’s working.

By The Numbers

Collision data over a three-year period, from 2015 before Vision Zero was launched to 2018, showed a 41% decline in traffic fatalities and a 17% decline in serious injuries, even though the number of vehicles on the road has increased. As well, we saw collisions involving vulnerable road users including pedestrians decline by 21%, cyclists by 27%, and motorcycles by 31%.

But Vision Zero is more than just flashing amber lights and speed limit signs. It is an attitude and a value system that guides the way we live in Edmonton. It is the belief that life and health should never be exchanged for convenience, that we need to put safety first. It is the belief that everyone deserves to leave and come home safely every day. It is belief every single Edmontonian can adapt and contribute. When you slow down at a playground zone, stop at the pedestrian crossing, encourage your peers to drive to conditions, ensure the road is safe before crossing, you contribute to Vision Zero.

Let’s continue succeeding together.