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Highway of Tears safer, B.C. Justice Minister insists

Suzanne Anton in Vancouver in November 2011.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

B.C.'s Justice Minister says a stretch of highway known as the Highway of Tears is safer than it has been, while giving no indication about what more her government intends to do to protect vulnerable women in the region.

In December 2012, commissioner Wally Oppal produced a report about missing and murdered women, and among his recommendations was an urgent call to improve safety along the Highway 16 corridor.

At least 17 women have disappeared or been murdered along Highway 16 and two adjacent highways since the 1970s, prompting calls for a more safe transportation, including some form of shuttle bus.

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The government has insisted it has been busy holding a "tremendous number" of consultations with local governments and other stakeholders about the issue, but mayors and community leaders throughout the region say the province hasn't contacted them.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says Greyhound bus service, provincially funded local transit, a health bus, and Via Rail train service have all made the highway safer.

Those things were in place before Oppal released his report, and Greyhound bus service along Highway 16 was actually cut in half last year.

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