‘No one wants to come here:’ community group raises safety concerns over Max Bell CTrain stop

Click to play video: 'Safety concerns raised about southeast Calgary Ctrain station'
Safety concerns raised about southeast Calgary Ctrain station
Some transit users have safety concerns about a parking lot at a southeast Calgary Ctrain station. Global News' Blake Lough has the details – Jan 11, 2019

Residents who live and work near the Max Bell CTrain station along Memorial Drive are raising safety concerns, saying the stop is too dark and ultimately, unsafe.

While the station itself is located between eastbound and westbound Memorial Drive, the bus stop and park and ride is situated on a property just north of the road.

City buses access the small, gravel parking lot and bus stop via 19 Street S.E., while pedestrians must follow a path that cuts diagonally through an empty field.

The Max Bell CTrain station and nearby bus stop. A pedestrian path cuts through an empty field. Google Earth

Streetlights provide lighting for the turnaround and walkway down to the CTrain station, but the small parking lot and surrounding area is shrouded in darkness at night.

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“This is certainly one of the spaces, if not the single space that our community is embarrassed by,” said Crossroads Community Association president Larry Leach.

“At night time, no one wants to come here. I haven’t heard one person that’s said ‘Oh, I feel just fine going there at night’.”

The Barlow Park & Ride at night. Global News

According to Leach, residents in the area have complained about the unsightly CTrain stop for the better part of a decade, but with changing demographics, those concerns have been renewed on social media.

“I do not feel safe leaving my car there to use the station, nor walking through the area as soon as the sun goes down,” wrote one resident on the community association Facebook page.

“I can’t believe we have a train station with such poor access. I’ve 311’d it before,” wrote another.

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At a recent community association meeting, Leach said concerned residents called for improvements.

“There were ladies in the crowd, some of our residents, who said ‘I will take an Uber, I will take a cab rather than come to this CTrain station and go to my home, because I feel unsafe’,” he said.

READ MORE: Calgary police seek to ID man after alleged CTrain sexual assault

But according to Ward 10 councillor Ray Jones, finding a solution might not be so simple.

The land that holds the bus stop and the parking lot is privately owned and could be developed in the future. Currently, the city and the owner have an agreement in place to allow Calgary Transit and the public access to the site.

But that could change.

“We’re here at the leisure of the owner of the land. And we he tells us we have to leave, we have to leave,” Jones said.

Any upgrades the city wants to make at the site would require permission from the landowner. Also, the city would be on the hook for remediation costs if the owner chose to develop the land.

A lone commuter waits for a bus at the Max Bell bus stop. Global News

“The city is saying that to do all the upgrades that the public wants, it would be over a million dollars and they’re not prepared to spend a million dollars on fifty parking stalls,” Jones said.

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Jones added in a Facebook post that the Max Bell CTrain station “has generated a lower amount of calls for service compared to all other LRT station locations.”

But the community association believes there are cost-effective ways to help people feel safe. Leach is hoping to open a dialogue with Calgary Transit to discuss possible solutions.

“Whether it’s lighting, whether it’s a proper walkway, whether it’s maintenance, whether it’s signage… I’m not asking for McMahon stadium floodlights. But we need some action here,” he said.

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