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Mayor Gondek wants ‘immediate action’ after more Calgary Transit violence

"We cannot wait for the next tragedy to occur before something more is done," the mayor said Wednesday.

One woman is in custody, while another is in Calgary hospital in life-threatening condition after a fight at the Lions Park LRT station Tuesday night.

The latest incident prompted a stern rebuke from Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek on Wednesday afternoon.

Calgary police were called to the Lions Park LRT station around 8 p.m. Tuesday after reports of an assault involving a weapon. Police said the District Operations Team was in the area and was able to immediately respond.

When they arrived, there was a fight underway between several women. Two had suffered stab wounds, police said. One of the women was transported to hospital in life-threatening condition, according to police. Two others were taken to hospital and later released.  

According to police, the women were known to each other, and it was not considered a random attack.

“Public spaces need to be safe for the public and this type of violent behavior will not be tolerated,” said Calgary Police Service Superintendent Cliff O’Brien.

“Together with our partners at Calgary Transit, we have employed copious resources along our train lines and nearby communities to ensure those who need support are receiving it, while at the same time, ensuring those who would prey on the vulnerable or act in a dangerous manner are held to account.”

One woman is in custody and charges are pending, police said.

Transit safety remains an issue; the mayor expects immediate action

Recently, transit safety has stubbornly stayed in the spotlight.

Two weeks ago, Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said he was frustrated by provincial inaction on root cause issues as two people were stabbed at the 4 Street SW LRT station.

It’s not the first time Lions Park LRT has been in the news. The station was brought up after Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong toured the area almost one year ago to the day. There, he uncovered vandalism, graffiti and drug paraphernalia that required substantial cleanup.

Since the start of the pandemic, incidents like these have become all too frequent as Calgary Transit tries to woo riders back. Earlier this year, however, Calgary Transit did boast that ridership is growing at a faster rate than they expected.

This latest incident drew the ire of Mayor Gondek. She said transit violence is a problem across Canada and Calgary’s no exception.

“I have made it clear to Administration that I expect immediate action and additional resources to be deployed,” she said.  

“We cannot wait for the next tragedy to occur before something more is done. As a municipal government, we must provide better transit safety for Calgarians.”

The City of Calgary has invested in more transit peace officers. A couple of classes have graduated in recent months.  Twelve Alberta Sheriffs were also added in a 12-week pilot. In one of the more recent moves, City of Calgary corporate security was added to the mix.

“The reality is, the pandemic had a major impact on our transit system. With ridership numbers down due to people being at home, the system became a target for illegal activity,” the mayor said.  

“Whether it is workers returning to the office, students heading to school or seniors travelling to a medical appointment, all Calgarians deserve a safe and dependable transit service. Increased ridership alone is not enough to stem the tide of violence we are seeing.”