A new petition making the rounds is calling on the city of Barrie to put in place measures to make the downtown more safe for women.
Jasmine Botter, a 24-year-old student in the city, created the petition after a series of incidences. She told Barrie 360 the one that pushed her over the edge was when she and a friend were walking through the downtown core recently, and harassed twice in the span of minutes. “We were approached by a man who started asking us to hang out,” she said, adding the man wouldn’t take no for an answer. “It just escalated to a point that he shoved his phone in my face and said, ‘enter your number.’ So I really didn’t know what to do in the moment, I just entered a fake number and hoped it was all over.”
Moments later, she says another man emerged, and followed the pair, demanding they turn around and show him their faces. “We kept walking until we were at the construction area at the five points, and we have hit a dead end.” A female construction worker escorted the two women to a safer place and they tried to get on with their day. “We felt like our space was so invaded, and we hadn’t done anything wrong. You know, we shouldn’t have been feeling that way.”
Jasmine is hoping her petition will help inform the city’s long term strategy, the Barrie Official Plan. “They’re asking for public feedback until December of this year,” said Jasmine. “The measures I’ve proposed are ones that I feel are very simple, yet they would be very effective in preventing violence against women.”
Among the measures she proposes is a women’s safety audit. “Which is basically when the people who are designing the city get together with your average everyday woman and they walk through the city with them and woman points out what might be a challenge for them in the city. I think that would help a lot.”
Councillor Keenan Aylwin represents Ward 2 which encompasses the downtown core. He says he’s already read through Jasmine’s petition. “I’m glad to see that there’s this grassroots push to take these issues seriously,” he told Barrie 360 over the phone. “We know that Barrie was ranked as the worst large city in Canada to be a woman last year. That’s extremely concerning.” He pointed to information from the Canadian Centre on Policy Alternatives.
“We can always do better. I think the ideas proposed in the petition are excellent and definitely something we need to look at and act on,” he concluded.