Creating a Safe and Vibrant Downtown Guelph: Determining Elements of the Built Environment that will Enhance Women's Feelings of Safety

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Spears, Tara
Women, more often then men, feel vulnerable in public urban spaces to violence and harm. Meanwhile, other urban spaces can make women feel more safe and comfortable. Examining the issue of women's safety and women's perceptions of safety in urban spaces is critical as the results will improve urban planning and policy and also inform police regarding Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Through the use of the Community Safety Audit, the process of analyzing the built environment is formalized and well organized to inform decision makers, planners, and the police, and will empower women as experts in their community. This master's report explored the relationship between women and their built environment in downtown Guelph through the use of the Community Safety Audit (CSA) developed by The Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC). Interviews were conducted with five female Guelph residents using the CSA tool. In addition, one interview was conducted with a professional who has extensive experience in planning and community development in downtown Guelph. The end result was a list of recommendations for the City of Guelph and others interested in taking a similar approach to improve community safety through planning. This report will hopefully inspire planners and other professionals to consider the Community Safety Audit as a tool for assessing women's feelings of safety, and everyone's safety, in the City of Guelph.
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