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Calgary Transit union, passengers speak out amid ongoing CTrain safety concerns


A violent incident that unfolded at a Calgary LRT station on Wednesday is prompting renewed calls for improved safety measures.

On Wednesday, paramedics took two people to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a stabbing near the 4th Street SW Station just after 6 a.m.

A trail of blood could still be seen when the station reopened later in the morning.

The stabbing is one of many recent violent incidents centred around the city's light rail transit system, something concerning to the union representing Calgary Transit workers.

"I’m hearing from our frontline members that the train has become the safe injection site, and with that comes other crimes," said Mike Mahar, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583.

"Without safe injection sites for drug use and consumption, these people go to the trains where the likelihood of them being interfered with is negligible."

Mahar believes the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Alberta's opioid crisis, saying the city and the province have good intentions of increasing enforcement in the form of peace officers and sheriffs, but it can’t be the only step.

"I think enforcement is the frontline answer, but then you have to implement other social programs for others that don’t mean harm, to get to other places where they can get help."

"With regards to the sheriffs, they are going to be able to interact with all of those other systems that are designed just for this purpose. Money directly in place to combat drug-related issues would be better spent."

Calgary police respond to a stabbing at the 4th Street SW platform on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Steve Bradshaw with Edmonton’s Transit Union Local 569 agrees, saying more work is needed to help Alberta’s most vulnerable population.

"Status quo is not good enough. We need to get to the heart of the problem, and the heart of the problem is the homeless crisis, and the homeless crisis reflects a mental health crisis," he said.

"The mental health crisis is about healthcare, and our provincial government is not stepping forward. We need the Smith government to fulfill its mandate to get healthcare in place to support these people in the transit system, and get the criminal element that follows them onto the transit system out of here."

Violence on Calgary's transit systems is especially concerning to those who use transit every single day like Kristen Vo, who says there are constant moments in her day where she doesn’t feel safe.

"I’m always keeping an eye out, making sure sketchy things aren’t happening, and at certain stations there really needs to be more safety ambassadors," she said.

"More peace officers need to regulate these areas because people like me have no choice other than to take transit."  

Calgary Transit responded through Aaron Coon with the City of Calgary who is their spokesperson.



Aaron Coon, Chief of the City of Calgary Public Vehicle Standards for Emergency Management and Community Safety, says safety is the top priority for Calgarians using transit.

He noted that council approved a growth package for transit safety within the city (worth about $5.9 million) in July of 2022, which will add 32 peace officer positions and 31 additional corporate security guards on train platforms.

"We just actually started our last class of 14 peace officers at the beginning of this month, which will actually take us to the end of our growth package," said Coon.

"So we're hoping to see all the growth and the additional peace officers on the transit system by the end of May."

The city says its peace officers respond to roughly 60,000 service calls every year.

Coon says the issue of transit safety has become more complex in recently years.

"So is enforcement always the solution? No," said Coon.

"I think that we see that through the work of our community outreach team, our core team that works very closely with the DOAP Team from Alpha House. They work with approximately 300 individuals a month to try to find support them."

However, some local transit users, like Rob Ward, say the city should start treating the issue of transit safety as an emergency.

"These people are overdosing on the train and there’s not even a response, no one is showing up, so it’s not just about the safety of the passengers, it’s about the safety of everybody," he said.

"This has gone on way too long. I think we should call a Calgary Transit safety emergency because this is urgent and we need action right away."


Alberta’s Minister of Public Safety Mike Ellis says his government is committed to transit safety in Calgary and once again touted the implementation of a pilot project involving provincial sheriffs. 

A team of those sheriffs began regular patrols with the Calgary Police Service beat teams on Feb. 28 and will continue to do so over the course of the next three months.

The cost will be covered by the existing Alberta Sheriffs budget, according to statement from Ellis’ office:

"All members of the Alberta Sheriffs are professional peace officers who are trained to manage dynamic situations on the job and who interact with the public on a daily basis in a variety of roles," reads the statement.

"Training at the provincial academy lasts 15 weeks and prepares sheriffs for the complex and dynamic situations that police and peace officers face.

"This pilot project is just one part of the work being done by the provincial government’s Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force," said the statement.

"When we announced the deployment of Alberta Sheriffs last month, Minister Ellis and our partners were clear that this is only one potential solution, and only part of what needs to be done to address complex issues like addictions, mental health and homelessness."

Ellis adds that Alberta also funded more than 10,000 new treatment spaces since 2019.

He says Budget 2023 continued that commitment with a $94 million investment "to address the addiction crisis by building more recovery communities, establishing health-care services and community policing hubs and establishing harm reduction and recovery outreach teams." 


According to the latest data from Calgary police, the city is seeing a "considerable increase" in calls for service at LRT stations since the fourth quarter of 2021.

In the third quarter of 2022, the number of crime occurrences increased 12 per cent compared to the three-year average, jumping from 243 to 273.

From the beginning of 2022 until the end of the third quarter, there were 916 crime occurrences at LRT stations, which is a large spike from the 604 recorded for the same time period in 2021. 

In the first half of 2022, the number of crime occurrences had increased 53 per cent compared to the three-year average.

Public calls for service at LRT stations started to increase in the third quarter of 2021, and by the end of 2021 had the same volume as 2019.

In the third quarter of 2022, public calls for service increased 17 per cent when compared to the three-year average from 1438 to 1686. In the first half of 2022, calls for service had increased 79 per cent compared to the average. Top Stories

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