Newton residents speak out following hockey mom's death

About 100 people were turned away from a community safety meeting in Newton sparked by the beating death of Julie Paskall.

The 150-seat room hit capacity early as residents came to discuss safety after Julie Paskall's death

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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.

Seniors scared to walk streets

Others outside the forum said police and politicians need to start acting on their concerns, not just talking about them.

One woman, who identified herself as a former drug addict, said her mother lives in fear in this neighbourhood.

"My mom lives just across the street here and she's terrified to go to Safeway," said the woman, who only gave her first name as Laura.

Newton residents leave the public meeting on Monday evening after airing some of their concerns about safety in the neighbourhood following the beating death of Julie Paskall at the local arena. (CBC)

But she took issue with those who blame the drug recover programs in the neighbourhood.

"The biggest concern is recovery houses in the neighbourhood and stuff like that, and I disagree with that big time.

"Addicts have been roaming the streets of Newton for years, previous to all these recovery houses moving in. People being robbed and mugged isn't a new thing. It's just that it's getting more aggressive."

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.

with files from the CBC's Terry Donnelly and Kirk Williams

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