Councillor watching bus terminal
Neault wants greater security at west-side bus terminal
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.”
City councillor Maurice Neault wants security stepped up around the Confederation Mall transit terminal