Letters to the Editor

It’s a terrible thing to not feel safe

A growing memorial of flowers in memory of Julie Paskall is outside the Newton Arena, where the 53-year-old was viciously attacked on Dec. 29. - Leader file photo
A growing memorial of flowers in memory of Julie Paskall is outside the Newton Arena, where the 53-year-old was viciously attacked on Dec. 29.
— image credit: Leader file photo

As a longtime Newton and Surrey resident I am sickened and deeply saddened by the tragic murder at Newton Arena last week. My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this terrible time.

People have been complaining about the escalating crime around Newton for years. A quick troll through my inbox brings up emails about crime issues in Newton from people like Liz Walker going back years. We’ve had community forums, meetings, consultations; we’ve been cajoled and promised; but mostly we’ve been ignored. It’s been a civic election issue for over 20 years.

Many people will agree the roots of Surrey’s crime are born of the tremendous growth in population without an equal growth in the social infrastructure. Newton’s real problems started in 1986 when the bus exchange went in. Frankly it’s gone downhill ever since.

In 2008 we were told that as part of the city’s crime-fighting strategy for Newton that the bus exchange would be moved.  It’s still there.

In Newton the recreation centre and the Wave Pool face inward, not towards a street, but towards each other, sharing a joint parking lot. To the east, the back of a concrete mall and a bank sit next to a big stand of trees – none of this area is visible from the street. We are talking about an area that has very low visibility, which is poorly lit and is a stone’s throw from a large public bus exchange. How could we not see this coming?

I haven’t walked around alone in Newton for years. I go to the bank in daylight, to the local grocery store, walk directly and quickly with purpose and keep my purse tight to my body.  It is a terrible thing to not feel safe where you live and work and play.

Oh I know, they’re going to step up police patrols and get more lighting. I bet they hold a community meeting too, but will anything really change? We know that eyes on the street are what make us safe. Criminals don’t want to be seen.

Will more police officers be hired? Will there be a more visible on-the-ground police presence? Will we have security cameras installed in high-crime areas? Will we look at ways to make people feel safe and get them back out on the street and in the parks again? What will be done to make sure we are safe in Newton and Surrey?


Sheena Macintyre Wilkie, Surrey

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