Avalon Sexual Assault Centre would like to congratulate Mike Savage, as he becomes mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in a swearing-in ceremony today.

On Oct. 15, we hosted Savage to discuss the role of HRM in ending sexualized violence. During the meeting, we explained our women-centred approach and our various programs. We also explained how recent budget cuts have curbed our ability to adequately serve our clients.

Savage was very forthcoming about the role of HRM in ending sexualized violence. As mayor, he offered symbolic support by pledging to attend next year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month events. He also proposed to have an open door policy and to seek Avalon’s feedback when deciding on violence, policing and alcohol policies.

In addition to leadership on these issues, we propose HRM offer support in the form of core funding. Before HRM’s amalgamation in 1996, Avalon received core funding from Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford councils. Other than two small grants, Avalon has not received municipal funding since then.

While Avalon is dedicated to serving all Nova Scotia women, 93 per cent of our clients live in HRM. As a municipal service, Avalon should receive municipal funding.

We look forward to closening relationship with city hall. To end sexualized violence, we need political leaders to take a stand and show they understand the seriousness of the issue.

Afterall, Halifax Regional Police has an abysmally low rate of pressing charges against perpetrators of sexual assault. Though the Halifax has the only specialized Sexual Assault Response Team in Nova Scotia, rates of charges have dropped steadily in recent years.

Outcomes of reported sexual assaults in HRM

Data provided by Halifax Regional Police.

Outcomes of reported sexual assaults in HRM, 2012

Data provided by Halifax Regional Police.

One of Savage’s campaign promises was to make Halifax “the most inclusive community in Canada”.

An inclusive community does not tolerate sexualized violence.