News / Ottawa

OC Transpo pulls some advertisements for anti-harrassment campaign

Advocates want city to design new ads, continue to report anonymous reporting tools.

People wait downtown for buses along the Transitway.

Metro File

People wait downtown for buses along the Transitway.

OC Transpo has reduced the number of advertisements encouraging women to report harassment and sexual assault on the system, just after new data showed the service received hundreds of reports over two years.

As Metro reported last week the “Let OC Transpo Know” campaign, which included advertisements and an online tool for reporting incidents anonymously, led to 800 complaints between June 2015 and this month.

But many of the advertisements highlighting that campaign have now been taken down in favour of the “Ready for Rail” campaign, which includes information about the coming Confederation Line.

“Some spaces previously used to advertise other OC Transpo services or campaigns, including the ‘Let OC Transpo Know’ campaign, were converted,” said Pat Scrimgeour, OC Transpo’s director of customer systems.  

Scrimgeour said the campaign had been heavily advertised and that some posters are still up.

Julie Lalonde, director of Hollaback Ottawa, an anti-street-harassment advocacy roup, said the change isn’t surprising but that her organization plans to push OC Transpo to ensure the campaign is well advertised with new and updated messaging.

“It just reinforces us continuing to work with OC Transpo — that instead of a slow elimination of safety messaging that we create new safety messaging.”

She said any public campaign can blend into the background if it isn’t regularly refreshed.

She said the safety campaign has been de-emphasized before, in favour of other initiatives, such as the city’s adoption of the Presto system.

“It definitely takes a backseat when something else is seen as more important,” she said. “It’s not flash in the pan. It’s always relevant.”

Lalonde said, given the number of tourists and students who come to the the city, it’s important that people be fully aware of how to report harassment.

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