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Actionable policy needed to address intimate partner violence: county council

This follows a delegation from Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis last month that asked county council to declare the issue an epidemic
Coun. Diane Ballantyne speaks out about intimate partner violence during county council.

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Some councillors don't believe declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic is enough to protect residents.

That's why county Coun. Diane Ballantyne put forward a motion during a county council meeting Thursday morning asking staff to prepare a report identifying options for "actionable" policies that address intimate partner violence in Wellington County in a "more proactive way." 

This motion follows a delegation from Cindy McMann, a public educator with Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis (GWWIC), last month asking county council to declare the growing problem of intimate partner violence an epidemic as a first step to saving lives and building a stronger community. 

"I think we all understand that these declarations can have an impact in raising the profile about an issue but...I think that we also understand that taking tangible steps on the issue is more important," said Ballantyne, during the meeting. "Actionable policy is always going to speak louder than declarations will."

Agreeing with Ballantyne, Coun. Matthew Bulmer, who seconded the motion, said he was surprised to see less than 10 per cent of the 86 recommendations being asked of the Ontario government apply to the municipal sphere but believes "any change, even small, could save a family or a life."

Created by a jury following an inquest into the murder of three women in 2015 in rural Renfrew County, the first recommendation asks municipalities to declare intimate violence an epidemic. 

"I think this is an important first step and I think we also need to remember that we as a municipal government at this level are a major employer in our community," said Warden Andy Lennox, during the meeting. "We also are community leaders...and for us to set an example of what we can do to pay tribute to making this problem less will (hopefully) inspire others to ask the question of 'what can I do?'." 

Staff will return with a report on the issue at a future meeting. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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