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Stabbings prompt Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek to announce new transit safety measures

Calgary announced a new action plan Monday to make its transit system safer after two women were stabbed last week at a light rail transit station.
Two passengers wait for a transit train in Calgary on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Calgary has announced an immediate action plan to make its city transit system safer amid growing security concerns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary announced a new action plan Monday to make its transit system safer after two women were stabbed last week at a light rail transit station. 

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that while the safety concerns on public transit are felt throughout the country, "this does not take away the imperative for immediate action in our city to make our system safer."

"It will take all orders of government and partners together to make real and meaningful improvement," Gondek said during a news conference at city hall. 

On March 28, police said two women were stabbed at the Lions Park LRT during an altercation with several people. 

Police have the women involved knew each other and it wasn't a random attack. A 31-year-old woman was later charged with aggravated assault and for failure to comply with a court order.

Gondek said part of the city's safety plan is to immediately double its station security guards from eight to 16. The number is to be tripled by the end of the month.

CTrain stations are to get an increased number of overnight patrols, pairing Calgary Police Service officers and community peace officers seven nights a week, she said. 

Passengers will hear frequent station announcements about surveillance and that the transit is for users only. 

The city also plans to increase the number of close-circuit television security cameras for all downtown stations. The Operations Control Centre is to monitor the platform activities proactively and "dispatch resources" if they notice suspicious behaviour.

Calgary police officers and transit peace officers have been called at least 11 times to address social disorder, drug activity or assaults in 2022. At least five of those cases are from this year alone, the city said. 

The city has added 28 new transit peace officers, a 25 per cent increase to its force. Of those, 14 peace officers were deployed in February and another cohort of 14 officers would be joining in May.

Other cities have also been dealing with an increase in violence on public transit.

Toronto police put more than 80 officers working overtime on patrol in the city's transit system in late January in response to a spate of violence but ended those shifts more than two weeks ago.

However, police there said they were returning to deploying on-duty officers for regular, proactive patrols on the transit system after 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes was fatally stabbed in an apparently unprovoked at a subway station on March 25. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2023.

-- By Ritika Dubey in Edmonton


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect spelling for Gabriel Magalhaes' last name.

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