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“Communication leads to community: that is, to mutual understanding, and mutual value.” ~ Rollo May

As  I write this, it is now 11:24 on Friday June 27th, 2014.

I missed the report on Global earlier this evening of an alleged swarming attack at The Grove in Newton, and over the last few hours have talked with other community members, agencies and law enforcement.

It’s correct to say, we are all in shock, and in disbelief. That takes time to process, to be honest.

Let me first say that as an 11 year resident of Newton, first in West Newton, now in East Newton, I have a vested interest. Others who have called Newton home for generations, more so.

Two of my children attended preschool in the building housing the ice rink.  I regularly bus in and out of the Newton bus loop and when I am not in a bus, I am driving by the Newton bus loop to see what is going on. As long time readers know, it’s been a long time source of stories and breaking news.

I think I speak for all of us, everyone, at every level, when I say we are more than ‘done’ with the grief, the stress, the seemingly never-ending incidents that sadly, we are all used to in Newton.

It shouldn’t be this way. And as friend David Dalley said this evening on twitter, we all own a part of this. All of us.

Ironically, I was there in the grove with my two young sons less than an hour from the alleged attack. The boys read the poems on the trees, they played in and out of them and the blue chairs were filled with a group of elderly south Asian men who were engaged in deep conversation. A woman was sitting beside a stroller with her baby sleeping, clearly grateful for the shade of the trees to take a short break on the sidewalk along Coast Capital’s back wall.

David Dalley and others, have done amazing things in this grove of trees that I was vehement in having cut after Julie Paskall’s tragic death. I have seen those changes personally, as have others and let me tell you, it is an awe-inspiring thing.

I was wrong for thinking that cutting the grove would be the solution.

Turns out the trees were the solution. It’s called ‘place-making’ and  it is happening in The Grove.

Now these teens, this has been an issue for years in Newton, at the bus loop and in this mall area. The Safeway manager says as much in the Global story, as will anyone else willing to speak publicly.

That Safeway endures far more than they should have to. Like having to install ultra violet lights in the public bathroom to keep junkies from shooting up inside.( google that) Saw this firsthand a while ago. They are an essential service to many and a good corporate neighbor.

I stopped by their Starbucks (and I hate Starbucks coffee) every morning after dropping off my youngest at the Newton Rec Centre preschool for a year, which has the best trained preschool teacher around town.I actually do support local businesses and many more would if the area was better and that is why so many people are devoting so much time to change in the area.

Newton is awesome… it just keeps getting the short end of the stick.

Which leads me back to this incident, that happened on Wednesday, that the public slowly found out about on the Friday afternoon before what most people are making a long weekend.

Public relations at its bloody best, in my opinion, and more worrisome, indicative of a lack of communication between Surrey RCMP and the public. A number of questions immediately sprung forth, like where were the RCMP patrols at this time? Commissionaires?

City of Surrey have had security guards stationed in the area since Paskalls tragic death. They are wonderful.

Translink security or police was stationed in the area with a car frequently following that incident, but are not often seen at the bus loop.I do know firsthand the chief of Translink police was committed to ensuring Newton bus loop was covered at the last Newton Community Association public forum.

RCMP have had walking patrols, along with city contracted Commissionaires that I have personally only seen in the late afternoon/evenings.

But this incident happened and not only did people allegedly walk by this girl being beaten in the grove, but a Safeway employee came out to deal with it.

David Dalley is right. We do all own a part of this.

911 is free. While a group of teens engaged in a swarming is definitely intimidating, turning your back and “not seeing it” is also not acceptable. And questions remain as to why this situation of known teens who were behind this, were not made known to the locals who are invested in this community, and the public who travel through this area.

Communication between the community and the RCMP is critical.

When any public safety issue arises, the public must be informed. I am confidant the public supports officers on the street and will do their part – if they have the knowledge of public safety issues and crimes that creates both vigilance and ownership.

If we don’t know what is going on, we can’t  be proactive, and proactive solutions are what is need… not reactive.


The RCMP must not be politicized at any time, much less during an election year. Nor must information be withheld from the public except in instances where it might impede an investigation or arrest. When residents begin to question whether or not public relations is trumping public safety information in the press, someone, somewhere, has failed.

Why was the public not informed of ongoing issues many in Newton have known about?

With women and children, seniors and singles, students and everyone else using a major transportation/recreational hub, why wasn’t the public and others in the community informed of this incident several days ago? ”

It is a question only the city and the RCMP can answer, and one Newton residents look forward to hearing the answer.



  1. Well put and well reasoned Laila.
    But it is a question without an answer. It may be that the answer may come from NYC in the Guardian Angels citizen patrols.


    • It is what it is,and pretending otherwise isn’t the right approach in Newton, or anywhere else for that matter.

      The members on the street are working hard,but the flow of information between RCMP,community agencies and the public with respect to incidents is not good. You have to push and push and it’s an uphill battle.

      A good example of this is crime mapping. It’s an excellent tool to show residents where hot spots of crime are happening and is used in other cities with success.

      We had crime mapping in Surrey once upon a time and it was posted on the Surrey RCMP website. Used in conjunction with Block Watch or simply on ones own,it allowed residents to be proactive and vigilant for activity known to be occurring in their neighbourhood.

      It disappeared of the RCMP website around the last election and I was never able to get an answer from the RCMP as to why that was. When I went to the main detachement and asked – as a resident of the city, not a writer-I was told to FOI it.

      I asked OIC Bill Fordy months ago at the public meeting why it was taken down and whether or not they would bring it back as just one tool to help residents be informed. He said he never heard of it and didn’t know and would look into it.

      Nothing happened and myself and others pushed online etc to get this done, finally asking councillor Rasode publically to bring this matter to the police committee.
      She did, and the RCMP have said it will be back but no timeline when and the RCMP states it will not be on their site, but the city site as part of their ‘Open Data’.

      Imo, Crime stats and crime mapping shouldn’t be a city run initiative, it should come independently from the RCMP themselves.

      There is still an issue in Newton, despite the incredible work of many people.

      A big concern we all voiced after the suspect was arrested in the Paskall case, was that not remaining vigilant and continuing visible law enforcement patrols in the neighbourhood would come with a cost. Newton district is a massive geographic area to work and a busy one.

      We have excellent volunteers doing tours of the area and being involved in engaging youth at risk via a mentorship program but they are always needing funding and they are not RCMP.
      We now have contracted out commissionaires patrolling the area, but I don’t know where they were at the time of this incident and I didn’t see any of them when I was there prior to the incident.

      The information on what is going on in the community needs to flow smoothly and frequently so we can all do our part to support the work of the RCMP on the street.

      It’s a tough enough job being an officer in Surrey without the pressure of managing public relations in an election year where crime is once again front and centre. Supplying us with the information concerns or crimes that impact public safety is essential so we can do our part,be proactive and have a working partnership.


  2. We have all seen the changes in this area as the north Surrey problems with drug addiction, poverty and prostitution have been moved down the King George Highway. Newton now needs the same kind of help that Whalley has had. Surrey First has created a downtown eastside, and it’s not getting better. Real leadership is needed now to address this troubling trend. Is anybody listening? Do the RCMP have orders to keep quiet on this stuff? If so, that’s just wrong. Where are the whistleblowers when we need them?


  3. my wife works along 137 by save on and talked to the new security hired by the city (commissionaires) and was as asked to call if there were any loiterers or shady characters on the street she called this week to make a report and nobody answered and she received no call back. Were they just hired for show until the heat was off


  4. Firstly, you have to let go of your faith in institutions. Despite their original intention (mission statement) they decay into non-think and try to replace that with procedure and policy. Doesn’t work. When the humanity is lost, the efficacy of the institution is over. City Hall is non-think. RCMP, too. They are UNCONSCIOUS – by design. Even Safeway is the same – that they seem better in Newton is because of the individuals that work there. These employees are people like you and they act like it. Secondly, as a partial solution, we-the-people have to re-invent the institutions all the time just to give them a chance at retaining some humanity. That means voting with 100% turnout. That means fewer rules and policies – not more. That means new people doing new things to deal with new problems. And thirdly, you have to realize that new problems will keep happening. It is nature at work. And the problems become more and more primal as we become more and more sophisticated. Primal behaviour is a response to complication and our lives are getting more complicated all the time. Some can’t keep up. Proof: the trees. The trees are basic. The trees are primal. People (good and bad) are drawn there. The park is simple, primal, basic and, by NOT being complicated, somehow more human friendly. The gangs AND the old men don’t hang out at the library. They don’t hang out at the college or the electronics store. They go to parks and parking lots. What is the real answer? Get out of the city, it is getting too Orwellian for everyone.


  5. If a person is being swarmed and others ignore it, they are as guilty of beating that person as those doing the beating. If people are afraid to get involved, they had only to phone 911 or start screaming at the top of their lungs to attract attention. It most likely would have scared the “swarmers” away.

    people who wish to do violence will simply wait until the police, etc. are out of eye sight. Professional police can not be everywhere all the time. We as citizens have a duty to do something, even if all it is, is to call 911 or call out to have them stop. It may not be much, but if everyone does a little, this type of swarming/bullying will eventually stop.

    Swarming is not a crime of poverty. Its a crime of all classes. Its what bullies and cowards do. On another level you wonder what made these young people so angry that they have to swarm another individual.


  6. I know this is off topic but I had to share. What do you think of the fact that Moe Sahota (yes that guy) has joined forces with Mark Marissen (yes that ex of Christy Clark) to be advisers to Barinde Rasode for the mayor of Surrey. What do you make of the fact that in the last election the Fibs used a pic of Sahota with Clark to slander the NDP with. Strange politics? google all three names and you will get an interesting take on what is going on now in BC!


  7. What ails our youth today is a very complex issue. Instinctively we often believe the solution lies in more police, law enforcement and harsher punishments for crimes. Some communities have found though that better answers are found in supporting youth through asset building. It is a proactive approach that empowers youth, but it takes much more community involvement than just by the police and legal system.
    Getting this going in Surrey, Newton, Whalley, etc. would be invaluable for our neighbourhoods and city. In Richmond the RCMP initiated a program several years back under Superintendent Ward Clapham. One thing they did, is they would hand out “tickets” to youth recognizing good behaviour, such as picking up litter, that would give the young person a free pass for activities such as swimming, skating, mini-golf at city facilities. Check the Day 2 Agenda here and read the article which suggests a positive way forward.
    Tragedies like what has happened at the Newton Rec Centre recently or under the Patullo Bridge in the past need to galvanize all of us into action to supporting our youth and building our communities. It is a huge challenge.


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