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Better lighting, less trash among keys to safer bus loop

Working in conjunction with Metro Vancouver Transit Police, the City of Langley is looking into ways of making transit users feel more secure at and around the Logan Avenue bus exchange. Among the recommendations are removing trash and graffiti and improving lighting in the area. Council agreed to spend $1,500 on clean-up, but deferred a staff recommendation to spend $10,000 on lighting.  - Langley Times file photo
Working in conjunction with Metro Vancouver Transit Police, the City of Langley is looking into ways of making transit users feel more secure at and around the Logan Avenue bus exchange. Among the recommendations are removing trash and graffiti and improving lighting in the area. Council agreed to spend $1,500 on clean-up, but deferred a staff recommendation to spend $10,000 on lighting.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

Beyond a more prominent police presence at the Logan Avenue transit exchange, there are several keys to improving safety at the Langley City bus loop, TransLink and Langley City council members agree.

Installing brighter light bulbs, creating better sight lines, scheduling more frequent trash removal, increasing video surveillance and actively discouraging graffiti will make using transit safer, they say.

What's less clear, however, is who is to pay for what.

Last winter, the City contacted transit police "explaining that there was a large amount of disorder around the bus loop," said Neil Dubord, chief officer with the transit police service, who made a presentation to City council on Monday night.

After speaking with the RCMP, and having the area surrounding the bus loop assessed using CPTED — Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design — principles, transit police provided the City with a number of recommendations for improving safety and overall behaviour in and around the bus shelter.

Among the items that came out of the CPTED analysis, were recommendations that the site be kept clear of trash and that the City work with Cascades Casino to install video surveillance along Locke Lane — the alleyway that runs between the casino and the nearly-vacant Rainbow Mall, where the bus loop is located.

Prompt clean-up of graffiti and discouraging the defacing of utility boxes by covering them with vinyl wraps, as has been done in other areas of the City, is also among the recommendations.

The City has suggested that BC Hydro should pay to remove graffiti from its power poles while TransLink bears responsibility for wrapping a bicycle locker located at the bus shelter.

According to council, however, TransLink has indicated it will only agree to install a wrap if it bears paid advertising.

Dubord said he would look into that policy, adding there is room for discussion.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro won't remove graffiti unless it is "socially offensive" said Councillor Gayle Martin.

"This is a partnership. They should be made to remove the graffiti," she said.

Councillor Jack Arnold remarked, later in the meeting, that Dubord had been "very careful to say 'partner.'

"I feel like 'partner' is we pay and they do the removal."

A motion by Martin that TransLink and BC Hydro be directed to remove graffiti from their property located at the bus loop, passed unanimously.

In their report, meanwhile, staff had recommended that council approve a total expenditure of $11,500 to improve security at the bus loop. Of that, $10,000 would be used to upgrade lighting, including increasing the wattage of bulbs lighting the area from 150 watts to 250 watts.

"Why is it $10,000 to go up 100 watts," asked Martin.

Councillor Teri James noted the lights at the transit exchange were upgraded three or four years ago and asked what the cost of that improvement had been.

City CAO Francis Cheung replied that he could not immediately recall the amount.

Councillor Dave Hall asked where the money had come from for the earlier upgrade, adding he is hesitant to keep dipping into the City's enterprise fund.

Hall said that while he believes there is worth in illuminating the area to a greater extent, council should look at doing it as a joint effort and determine whether that is possible before committing the funding.

Council agreed to allocate $1,500 to clean-up efforts, including wrapping two City-owned boxes, but balked at spending a further $10,000 on lighting.

A vote to defer the lighting expense passed with only Councillor Rosemary Wallace opposed.

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