Safety at 22nd Street SkyTrain station questioned

Kris Taylor has been living across from the 22nd Street SkyTrain station for 11 years and he says the area is plagued with rowdy behaviour, vandalism and theft. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Kris Taylor has been living across from the 22nd Street SkyTrain station for 11 years and he says the area is plagued with rowdy behaviour, vandalism and theft.

One evening recently Kris Taylor was spending a quiet night with his girlfriend and a friend at his home across from 22nd Street SkyTrain station.

The quiet didn’t last long.

He could hear a racket going on across the street. Looking out his window he saw a young man randomly going after people at the ticket vending machines, outside the station, on the stairs and the platform.

It went on for 20 minutes before he saw the man “viciously attacking a woman who turned out to be his mother,” so he and his friend went over to the station while his girlfriend phoned the police. The friend, who works as a security guard, performed a citizen’s arrest and then detained him until New Westminster police arrived, detained the attacker and interviewed witnesses and victims.

It all took about an hour, but to Taylor’s dismay there was no sign of a SkyTrain attendant, TransLink security or transit police.

Taylor says this is not an uncommon occurrence at the 22nd Street station. He’s been there 10 years and says it happens all the time, and occasionally he has to intervene to prevent someone from getting hurt. He said people urinate nearby as often as twice an hour. He complained and when nothing was done he set up a webcam from his living room window and posted it on the Internet. He showed that to police but, once again, nothing was done, he said.

“There is a serious lack of any sort of plan to keep that station safe.”

In another recent incident, somebody began banging on newspaper boxes so loudly he could hear it in his basement. Then he attacked the garbage bins Taylor had put out, which meant cleaning up the mess the man caused.

“There should have been somebody around to hear somebody beating on a newspaper box for 20 minutes,” said Taylor. “You would think they would have someone there.”

At stations like next door at Edmonds he often sees either an RCMP or transit police car parked there and wonders why that can’t be done at 22nd Street, especially since the transit police office is only two stops away.

“The reporting has been downloaded onto me,” said Taylor about his frequent calls to New Westminster police. “I have no problem with them. Sometimes they come amazingly quickly.”

Transit police can’t be summoned by 911, however.

“No one knows how to get a hold of TransLink police,” said Taylor, who maintains when transit security do come they just drive around the bus loop and leave. “They don’t even get out of the car. Whatever their plan is at 22nd Street, it’s not working.”

He said the only time he sees a transit police officer is on the platform switching trains.

Taylor chose his residence because he gets around on transit, and he doesn’t want to be forced to go anywhere else.

“Why should I have to move? I didn’t expect SkyTrain to be always quiet. I just expect TransLink to have a response,” he said.

Unlike most other SkyTrain stations, 22nd Street is in a strictly residential neighbourhood. There are no commercial outlets and apartment blocks or high-rises next to it. The nearest major road is a block away.
Taylor believes the answer is to have eyes on the premises to deter possible violators. But none of the SkyTrain stations in Metro Vancouver has an attendant on duty all the time.

“The major factor is the availability of resources,” said TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie. “We don’t have the resources to have full-time [attendants]. There is no location with full-time security.”

Taylor has also contacted New Westminster council and Mayor Wayne Wright emailed him back to say the city would discuss it.

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