Opinion Column

Surrey must secure public facilities 0

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Surrey woman Julie Paskall died after being beaten outside of the Newton recreation facilities. Pictured are RCMP members outside of the facilities.
(FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Surrey woman Julie Paskall died after being beaten outside of the Newton recreation facilities. Pictured are RCMP members outside of the facilities. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Several weeks have passed since the murder of Surrey’s Julie Paskall, who was brutally attacked as she waited to pick up her son outside of the Newton Arena. So far, it would appear precious little has been done by the city to protect parents and kids using city facilities.

Around the time of the memorial service for Paskall, CKNW reporter Janet Brown — also a hockey mom — had a frightening incident just a few miles away at the North Surrey Recreation Centre. She was picking up her son in the early evening when she ran into some aggressive dope dealers standing in her way. She backed off the thugs before managing to drive away. Her son was so scared he initially said he was afraid to go back to the rink.

After tweeting a complaint about the inaction of the city and the RCMP, she got some attention. Brown said she received calls from Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, a senior officer at the Surrey RCMP and even the city manager. Everyone promised they were on it. Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode even called to say she and the city manager were looking at adding more lighting and security cameras, and that they had added more security guards.

I took a walk around the North Surrey Recreation Centre last Wednesday. Much like the situation at the Newton recreation facilities, there are no apparent exterior security cameras at the entrance to the centre, which is situated adjacent to the Central City SkyTrain Station and bus loop, and across the street from the Central City Mall and the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University.

With all that traffic, vehicular and pedestrian, there are no cameras visible in the area of the rec centre, parking lots and approaches. There were dope dealers, homeless people, a pair of sex-trade workers, and lots of kids. No cops, no visible cameras and no visible security of any sort.

A block away is the new Surrey City Hall. It already has its exterior security cameras installed. I guess the mayor and councillors want to ensure they are not bothered by the thugs who plague people who use recreation facilities.

Surrey RCMP made a point of saying publicly they have stepped up their patrols in the Newton area. But that’s just a band-aid on a gaping wound. Yes, there are social issues that cannot be fixed in the short term. But improving security for these public facilities can. The city needs to stop talking and start doing.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.  

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Is Surrey doing enough to make people feel secure at its recreation facilities?

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