Residents near Surrey ice rink 'fearful' following hockey mom death

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Julie Paskall

Residents of Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood describe themselves as “fearful, furious and frustrated” following the fatal attack on 53-year old hockey mom Julie Paskall.


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The group called ReNewton Nation has been encouraging businesses and the community to revitalize the run-down, crime and drug plagued South Newton and King George corridor. However, the latest shocking, unprovoked death has sent the group and neighbourhood reeling.

Here is a message written on the group’s blog following Paskall’s death that calls upon Surrey mayor Dianne Watts to urgently act on finding an effective solution for the troubled neighbourhood. They place blame on Watts for shifting Surrey’s problems from one area to another in an effort to create a downtown city centre for Surrey at Whalley:

It’s difficult to write about  the murder of Julie Paskall  outside the Newton Arena and Rec Centre on Sunday December 29, without getting emotional. This was the worst kind of crime. An innocent victim beaten to death, most likely by one of the many desperate addicts who now frequent the area.

I moved to South Newton  27 years ago, back when it was still a semi rural community, with abundant wildlife and babbling brooks everywhere. It felt peaceful and safe. It’s hard to recognize the place today. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I accompanied my now grown-up son to swimming  and skating lessons at the Newton Rec Centre, never fearing once for our safety. That has all changed.

In light of this week’s event, we need some answers from Mayor Watts on the ongoing neglect of Newton, the heart of Surrey.

Why did the city of Surrey approve the monstrous John Volken  facility currently under construction at the corner of King George and 68th Avenue, despite  nearly 1000 residents voicing their opposition ?  This complex will bring another influx of vulnerable residents, into an already struggling community. We can say with a fair amount of certainty that had the application for a “Life Skills Academy” been for South Surrey or Cloverdale, it wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Why did Mayor Watts choose to vote NO against the South Surrey casino last January, knowing that this meant the existing gaming facility would remain in Newton along with slot machines. There could not be a worse location.

Why has the city of Surrey ignored the calls to enforce their own “unsightly property ” bylaw and not demolished the former public market building which has remained vacant for 15 years?  It has been described as a hobo jungle and is a haven for drug users and dealers and squatters. There is a process in place to remove buildings like this and charge the costs back to the land owners long with taxes.

Why were there no police foot patrols in the neighbourhood where Julie was attacked? With a community policing  station  only 2 blocks away, in a neighbourhood known to be sketchy?

Why were several lights out at the entrance to the arena on the night Julie Paskall was assaulted?

Why can’t Surrey get a handle on the explosion of unauthorized rental suites in the city?

Why do the powers that be in Surrey, continually put themselves in the position of needing to fix problems that by their own decisions they helped create?

In the coming days and weeks, Dianne Watts needs to make some important decisions for the future of her city.

The writer of this blog has been a supporter of Mayor Watts-voted for her in every election. I think I was her 6th follower on Twitter. And for the last 9 years my spouse and I have owned rental properties in the City Centre (Whalley) area.

We believed in and supported the mayor’s drive to revitalize downtown Surrey. That area needed help, but not at the expense of another town centre. Pushing the problems south along the King George has been a disaster. It is a Downtown Eastside for Surrey.

We don’t have all the answers, but now is the time for action and solutions.

Let’s get to work. First for Julie Paskall and her grieving family, and then for everyone who calls Surrey home.

On Monday, January 6, another organization called the Newton Community Association will be holding a 7 p.m. meeting located at Newton Seniors Centre to discuss the neighbourhood’s pressing issues and future.

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