Letters to the Editor

Resident praises clean up of 22nd Street SkyTrain station

I have been somewhat wary of writing this letter as I have feared that in doing so, the solution that many other stakeholders and myself put so much effort in to achieve might be lost as the issue fell off the radar. However, it has now been nearly a year, and credit must be given where credit is duly earned.

Last year, I wrote to the NewsLeader, complaining of rampant violence, noise, loitering, drug use, and other problems at 22nd Street SkyTrain Station.

I am overjoyed to report the problems have been more than addressed, they have been completely resolved.

When I originally wrote my letter, calling 911 was a thrice-weekly occurrence. Hearing angry shouting and screaming threats of violence was an almost daily occurrence.

Your reporters took on the matter with a fervor I did not expect.

Residents and members of the BC Liberal Party got involved, as did Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who worked within council to get a motion to have city staff prepare a report on the matter ratified.

Doug Semple of the Transit Police and Vita Borell of TransLink took on the issue with great sincerity and concern, though I could tell that the bureaucratic nightmare of TransLink and limited resources somewhat tied his hands when it came to my requests to establish some sort of a document establishing patrolling standards—apparently, no station had any sort of a safety or security plan on paper at that time.

Veronika Metchie of the city made huge strides with local residents, gaining authorization to pilot porta-potties at the station (something TransLink rejected despite having no financial involvement in the matter), erecting signs to reduce the number of people blocking driveways, increasing garbage pickup schedules around the station, and working with TransLink contractors to extend the pickup of the free newspapers across the street. She helped to get a partially constructed house that was being used as an illicit drug sales office demolished.

I however reserve my strongest commendation for New Westminster Police Const. Colin Adam. That officer deserves a medal for a job well done.

Const. Adam stepped up plainclothes and high visibility patrols in the problematic area under the guideway toward 20th Street, where residents complained of open drug use and sex in public. He also encouraged NWPS officers in the area writing reports to park at the station.

Shortly after Adam took on the project in late June 2011, my need to call 911 ceased entirely. In fact, since he took on the project, I have not needed to call 911 since.

Still to this day I see NWPS officers conducting random walkabouts in and around the station on a regular basis.

My big concern was that my issue with incidents at the station would get dealt with while the story was in the limelight—but that patrolling levels would diminish once papers like the NewsLeader moved on to other issues. However, this has not been the case at all.

I would like to extend a big thank-you to everyone (both mentioned and unmentioned in this letter) who helped to improve the safety, security, and livability of our street. I would also like to extend a public and gracious “you are welcome” to all of the residents who over the past year have thanked me for all of my efforts at getting this issue on the table. This issue has illustrated that when the community works together and residents make their voice heard, things can change.

I have always believed that a community, the government, and the authorities are not at odds and it is not an us and them relationship.

Kris Taylor

New Westminster

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