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Public transit safety strategy to be brought forward by Calgary city council

Calgary city councillors unanimously approved the Public Transit Safety Strategy on Monday, which will be brought to City Council later this month.

“The transit issues have been ongoing for the last year and so really this has been an evolution of our service model,” said City of Calgary's Aaron Coon.

According to a city report, the proposed Public Transit Safety Strategy would aim to improve rider confidence and security with a number of measures, including increased visibility of response teams and transit ambassadors, enhanced cleaning, improved infrastructure design and new community programming. The model would have safety hubs based out of Westbrooke and Whitehorn stations as well as a downtown hub.

“What I would hope is that we progress through this strategy, we add more peace officers, as we pivot towards a hub model, those response times to Calgarians are meeting expectations,” said Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner.

Focusing on a “people-first approach,” the report said vulnerable individuals on or around the transit system would be connected to supportive resources. An enhanced staffing model would deploy an integrated team of Calgary police officers, transit peace officers, security guards and community outreach teams to help respond to incidents on transit and “high-risk” locations along the LRT line.

“You’ll see a more efficient and effective response with the right resources being brought in at the right time for the right issues,” said Calgary Police Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik.

The integration model is one David Cooper, founder of Mobility Consulting, can see helping the city’s transit safety.

“Integrating the data between the different partners, that’s not happening in most cities so this is actually more advanced, like centralizing dispatch through 911,” said Cooper.

These measures would be implemented in addition to recent transit safety funding increases, such as $5.9 million in emergency funding approved in July 2022 and $8.7 million in one-time operating funding in June 2023. The strategy comes with a $15 million operational budget request to implement. The request would be made as part of the 2023 November budget adjustment process. However, as the city looks to tackle transit safety, having hubs and adding more peace officers won’t fix mental health, addictions and homeliness issues, highlighted the report.

“The challenges we are facing on transit are not a transit problem, they are a societal problem and they are showing up on our transit line,” said Penner.

The strategy will be discussed at City Council’s meeting on Oct. 17 and if given the green light, three of the five safety hubs could operational by December. Top Stories

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