BRITISH COLUMBIA

Newton Community Safety Meeting Turns People Away

01/07/2014 02:46 EST | Updated 03/08/2014 05:59 EST
Roughly 100 people were turned away from a community safety meeting at the Newton Seniors Centre last night as an overflow crowd attended to voice concerns over public security in the neighbourhood.

The meeting, organized by the Newton Community association and attended by 150, did not allow media or politicians inside. It was set up so that local residents could, discuss solutions to crime in the area after Julie Paskall was brutally assaulted and killed just next door to the centre two days before New Year's eve.

Although the seats inside were full long before the 7 p.m., PT start time, residents outside made it clear they want street level crime in Newton cleaned up.

Concerns ranged from an abundance of pawn shops to drug-dealing, bad lighting, a concentration of recovery and halfway houses in the area, as well as a general sense of fear.

Doug Elford of the Newton Community Association said the complaints are warranted.

"All you have to do is walk around the neighbourhood," he said. "Talk to people and see how safe they are. It's people walking around in fear."

Elford hopes as the group grows stronger, residents will be able to lobby politicians to put more resources into ensuring the community is safe. A bigger community session is planned for next month.

A memorial continues to grow where Julie Paskall was beaten and killed — just outside the Newton Arena while she waited to pick her son up from refereeing a hockey game.

Police believe the motive was robbery.

Since the death, transit police have stepped up their presence, as have community patrols and RCMP officers.

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