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Concerns raised about safety at dark Burnaby bus stops

Public safety committee member warns dense brush near local bus stops could provide cover for attackers

Dark bus stops close to trails and dense bush have one member of Burnaby's public safety committee worried about rider safety and calling on the city to make changes before it’s too late.

“My concern really is for people that are waiting for the bus at night,” local businessman Heymann Yip told the public safety committee Wednesday. “Someone could be lurking behind those bushes. Someone could be dragged in there. And I will assure you that, if there was an assault that occurred at one of those bus stops because they were dragged into the bushes, the city would spend millions to make sure that that doesn’t happen again. I’m just trying to be proactive.”

Yip, who is a citizen representative on the committee, had raised concerns at its last meeting in January about dark bus stops close to green space on Oakland Street between Royal Oak Avenue and Gilley Avenue and on Deer Lake Parkway.

The city’s public safety director, Dave Critchley, came back with a report this week about lighting levels at nine Oakland Street bus stops and some background on how the city’s engineering department decides where to place illuminated bus shelters.

Two stops on Oakland had lighting issues, according to the report, and the engineering department is working on enhancing lighting in those locations, but no shelters are planned for any of the stops because of low boardings there.

“These will of course be re-assessed as part of the annual process to determine their priority ranking with other stops throughout the city,” the report states.

But the report didn’t address Yip’s concern about dim bus stops that back onto dense brush, like a stop on Deer Lake Parkway by Willingdon Avenue, just across the street from a BCIT parking lot.

That stop is right beside a makeshift trail into a ravine and currently leads past what looks like a homeless encampment.

Another is across Deer Lake Parkway from Garden Grove Drive near where a burned body was found in a park early Thursday morning.

“I would not allow my kids to stand by those bus stops that are not well lit or not lit at all with a street lamp, and they back onto green spaces,” Yip told the NOW. “The green space is not recessed far enough. If there would be a sexual assault, it would happen, and no one would even know.”

Yip reiterated his concerns to Critchley about bus stops backing onto dense bush and trails at Wednesday's committee meeting.

Yip suggested cutting the green space back further.

Critchley said he would take Yip’s comments back to the engineering department.

Coun. Joe Keithley, another committee member, said Yip brought up “great points” and the city should act quickly on bus stop enhancements.

“We have to speed this up if we want to get people out of cars, if we want to have people feel safe when they’re catching the bus.”

He said improving bus stops is also important in terms of the “safety of women.”

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com

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