Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said he’s frustrated by a lack of provincial actions to address root cause issues spilling over into transit safety, after another incident Wednesday morning.
Demong was asked outside Calgary city council chambers, after the Intergovernmental Affairs meeting, what more the city could do to curb criminal activity on Calgary Transit. The question came after two people were taken to hospital in non-life-threatening condition early Wednesday after an apparent double stabbing.
Calgary police confirmed an apparent altercation happened around 6:20 a.m. Wednesday at the Fourth Street SW LRT station.
They said when officers arrived, three people appeared to have been in a fight. A man and woman appeared to have stab wounds, Calgary police said.
The man was taken to Foothills Hospital and the woman was taken to Sheldon Chumir, police said. The offender was taken into custody.
For a time, the Fourth Street SW station was closed, but has since reopened, police said.
Transit safety has been an ongoing problem for the City of Calgary since ridership plummeted during the pandemic. The City has hired more peace officers and recently announced that City of Calgary corporate security would be deployed around problem stations connected to buildings.
Back in December 2022, the province announced a task force to address Calgary addiction and homeless issues. The province also added 12 Alberta Sheriffs to downtown patrols in a 12-week pilot project.
Recently, the province announced cash to open up detox spaces and provide overdose response around the Calgary Drop-In Centre.
Homelessness, mental health, addictions, driving incidents Demong said
Demong said he recognized that these safety issues were happening on Calgary Transit property. What’s driving them, however, are homelessness, mental health and addiction, he said. He did acknowledge the province’s help with the task force and the sheriffs.
“I am getting frustrated that we’re not hearing an awful lot from the province about how they’re coming to help us with our homeless problem, with our mental health and addictions issues that are what is actually causing most of the problems on our transit systems,” he said.
Demong, chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs committee, said that these are fundamentally provincial issues.
The City of Calgary is hoping to move the needle with more affordable housing projects. Earlier this week they said they were making three parcels of land available for sale at below-market costs. Their hope was to get local non-profits into the ground and delivering more affordable housing. In mid-February, the City said they would provide $14 million in a partnership with the United Way and the Calgary Homeless Foundation to improve Indigenous housing, and fund the first and last month’s rent for disadvantaged Calgarians.
“I am legitimately frustrated that the City of Calgary is always told stay in your lane, do what you’re supposed to do. Don’t go outside your lane. And these are all three legitimately provincial issues that we’re being told, ‘well, now you deal with it because it’s in the city of Calgary,’” Demong said.
“Well, we’re also in the province of Alberta in case anybody’s listening. We’re here, we’re looking for help.”