Coun­cil­lor watch­ing bus ter­mi­nal

Neault wants greater se­cu­rity at west-side bus ter­mi­nal

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - General - By Neil Pet­rich

A Saskatoon city coun­cil­lor has been keep­ing his eye on the Con­fed­er­a­tion Mall bus ter­mi­nal, where a Good Sa­mar­i­tan was beaten this week af­ter com­ing to the aid of a young boy.

Mau­rice Neault has been the coun­cil­lor for the west-side Ward 3 since 2003, and dur­ing that time he has been try­ing to make sure those who want to take the bus feel safe enough to do so. Neault’s seat on coun­cil isn’t in jeop­ardy dur­ing this month’s elec­tion — he’s al­ready won it by ac­cla­ma­tion.

“You’ve paid your money to get on the bus, and you’ve got a trans­fer. It’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity as a city that op­er­ates pub­lic tran­sit to make sure that you safely get from one bus to an­other,” he said Fri­day. “I don’t care whose prop­erty it’s on.”

On Tues­day, Glen Landell, 47, was beaten up by three men at the Con­fed­er­a­tion Mall ter­mi­nal af­ter try­ing to re­trieve a base­ball cap the men had stolen from the boy. Landell was hit in the face and kicked in the ribs af­ter ask­ing the men to give the hat back.

The at­tack has raised con­cerns over the safety of the ter­mi­nal, which is fre­quented by school­child­ren and se­niors.

“It’s a hot spot for that kind of ac­tiv­ity and peo­ple know it,” Neault said. “I ask the peo­ple that ul­ti­mately have to make the de­ci­sion, would you drop off your 14-year-old daugh­ter here at eight o’clock at night? I don’t get an an­swer.”

How­ever, Neault said the per­cep­tion that the area is a rough neigh­bour­hood is in­ac­cu­rate.

“Peo­ple say, ‘Jeez I wouldn’t go out there, that’s not a safe part of town.’ Well I think it is a safe part of town,” Neault said. “All parts of town have hot spots.”

He said the in­ci­dents that do oc­cur nec­es­sar­ily crim­i­nal in na­ture but are along the lines of bul­ly­ing.

“Bul­ly­ing hap­pens right here, it hap­pens in the mall and it hap­pens all over,” Neault said. “I think col­lec­tively that’s an is­sue we all have to deal with.

“It’s not like it’s a great place to do purs­es­natch­ing . . . there’s too many peo­ple around and that’s what makes it safe in a way,” he said.

Neault said he usu­ally passes the ter­mi­nal if he is driv­ing to an ap­point­ment and stops in about twice a week dur­ing the busy trans­fer times.

“I don’t sit here and stand guard . . . I’m not on pa­trol, that’s some­thing that the po­lice do,” Neault said. “I know that when things flare up and it hits the pa­per, they tend to come around a lit­tle bit more.”

Neault said when in­ci­dents do get at­ten­tion trou­ble­mak­ers come by less of­ten be­cause the know po­lice are watch­ing the area more closely.

He said he would like to see some sort of author­ity present at the ter­mi­nal, whether it be are not in­stead in the form of po­lice pa­trols or a pri­vately paid se­cu­rity guard.

“Let’s make sure that if we need a guard here it’s at those crit­i­cal times, it’s that sim­ple,” Neault said. “It be­comes very in­ex­pen­sive (and) it solves the prob­lem.”

Leanna Cook, 16, uses the bus to get to work and school. She said she feels safe wait­ing for her ride but would like to see some form of se­cu­rity at the Con­fed­er­a­tion Mall hub.

“They should get a se­cu­rity guard,” Cook said. “I have to pick up my lit­tle brother from St. Michael’s (School) be­cause he doesn’t feel safe com­ing home.”

Neault of­fered an­other way to make the spot safer for rid­ers.

“If you took the school trans­fer point and moved it three blocks away you wouldn’t have any prob­lems here,” he said. “Gen­er­ally it’s kids af­ter school (hors­ing around) but some­times it builds from there,” Neault said. “I don’t think any­body plans to come here and beat some­body up. It hap­pens be­cause . . . kids are show­ing off.”

Neault said while there is some dan­ger for those tak­ing the bus, peo­ple shouldn’t be afraid to use pub­lic tran­sit.

“It’s not a volatile sit­u­a­tion but it has mo­ments,” he said. “It wasn’t bad to­day.”

npet­[email protected]

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—SP Photo by Dave Sto­bbe

City coun­cil­lor Mau­rice Neault wants se­cu­rity stepped up around the Con­fed­er­a­tion Mall tran­sit ter­mi­nal

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