‘Ugly side of convenience’: Neighbors near Edmonton LRT station weigh benefits – Edmonton

This is part 2 of a three-part series on LRT transit safety. Global Edmonton will explore this topic on Global News Hour at 6 a.m. April 27-29. Part 1 focuses on pilot experience. Part 2 explores the impact of the LRT on surrounding neighborhoods and general community safety. Part 3 will feature City Council and Edmonton Police as the two groups explore solutions.

When Ashley Whidden found a home south of Edmonton near a transit center, she was thrilled at her family’s luck.

But seven years later, she said she had discovered the downside of convenience that comes with living near an LRT station.

“We’re really having conversations about whether or not we should move to a new community,” said Whidden, who lives in Malmo Plains.

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Whidden said she had apparently drunk strangers walking around the backyard while she was playing with her children. Once, her children saw an arrest happening right outside the door.

The community’s Facebook group is littered with news of suspected thefts, break-ins and arson.

“The neighborhoods that are meant to benefit the most from the transit system are the ones that feel these negative consequences,” she said.


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Riders share extent of problems on Edmonton LRT


Riders share extent of problems on Edmonton LRT

Crimes near the Edmonton LRT system

The Edmonton Police Service monitors community crime and in March released a digital map.

Along the city’s LRT line, there are a higher number of incidents, including complaints of assault, theft, and weapons.

“We didn’t even have to look at the crime map, because we live it,” Whidden said.

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Click to play the video: “Some Edmontonians are concerned about the impact of the transit system on neighbourhoods”







Some Edmontonians are concerned about the impact of the transit system on neighborhoods


Some Edmontonians are concerned about the impact of the transit system on neighborhoods

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EPS declined to comment on the map’s trends, but neighbors told Global News they had experienced the overflow of incidents themselves.

“This increase in crimes, if I remember correctly, increased when the overpass was put up,” said Muhammad Elezzabi.

Elezzabi sits on the Malmo Plains Community League and said there is currently talk of closing the fence that connects neighbors to public transit. He admits that this is not an ideal solution.

“It would be inconvenient for us SLR users. But neighborhood safety comes first,” he said.


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Charges laid against 40 after drug investigation along Edmonton LRT line


Charges laid against 40 after drug investigation along Edmonton LRT line – March 23, 2017

Councilman Tim Cartmell also reviewed the crime map.

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“These crimes of opportunity, there is a correlation with our SLR stations.

“I think the assumption is that some members of this vulnerable community go out of the city center to other stations and commit crimes.”

Cartmell said he believed vulnerable members of the community were being preyed upon by groups that wanted to take advantage of them, leading to petty crime in order to get a quick buck.

“If we get them out of the crime industry, it helps (reduce) the potential for more crime in residential areas supported by this essentially free travel conduit that takes people out of the center,” he said. -he declares.

seek help

Transport union president Steve Bradshaw said safety – and how to improve it – was also on his mind. He does not believe that the presence of hired guards has a deterrent effect on crime. Bradshaw said he wishes peace officers had more authority.

“They are very limited. They should at least be able to enforce the Mental Health Act. It would help us take people with real difficulties out of the system and get them the help they need,” he said.

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Some Edmontonians are concerned about the city’s LRT system


Some Edmontonians are concerned about the city’s LRT system

Bradshaw said crime in and around the station is making it difficult for commuters to get back on public transport now that they are returning to the office.

“The city is working very seriously on this issue and we are working on it with them, but things don’t change overnight,” he said. “It’s a complicated problem.”

Meanwhile, Whidden hopes her kids — when they’re old enough to ride on their own — will reap the rewards of the system.

“We believe in public transport. We want to support the system and make sure our kids are part of it,” she said. “But, if it’s not a safe space, I don’t see it as an option.”

City of Edmonton Responds to Transit Concerns

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, an Edmonton city official said she was concerned for the safety of everyone on the LRT system.

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“We take the safety of our passengers and staff very seriously,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, Branch Manager for Edmonton Transit Service.

“We have a lot of eyes on the system and we have zero tolerance for harassment, criminal activity, causing harm to others or any other form of violence in transit.”


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Edmonton man faces charges in unprovoked attack on LRT


Edmonton man faces charges in unprovoked attack on LRT

Five more transit peace officers will be recruited by June, Hotton-MacDonald said, bringing the total number of such officers to 93.

The city is also looking to add an Opioid Response Team to address ongoing drug use and overdose concerns throughout the LRT system.

The biggest problem, Hotton-MacDonald said, is that transit safety issues cannot be solved by the transit department alone.

“These issues that cause a lot of worry and the feeling of being in danger are much, much bigger than public transit,” she said. “That’s the hardest part of it all.

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“We’re talking about very broad social issues: people without housing solutions, people with addictions and mental health issues (and) they congregate in our spaces.”

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But what can passengers do now to report problems or feel safer? Hotton-MacDonald urged passengers to save the Transit Watch phone number in their phone, use one of the blue emergency phones throughout the system or, if they are on an LRT car, use the drop-down tab emergency.

Transit Watch’s phone number is 780-442-4900 and can be called or texted to reach the Transit Control Center 24/7.

In the event of an emergency, passengers are encouraged to call 911.

The city is expected to provide a transit safety update to city council on May 24.

– With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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