LETTER: Blood, drugs and urine should not be part of Surrey’s city hall experience

How does an event not protect its patrons, or at least guarantee them safe access to their cars – especially when the event is at city hall?

  • Oct. 27, 2016 7:00 p.m.

One reader says she had an unsettling experience after a recent Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre event.

The Editor,

I had a very unsettling experience this weekend after a Surrey City Hall’s Centre Stage theatre event and I had to write you.

I just couldn’t let this slide.

I surprised my friend for her birthday and took her and my husband out to see the live comedy show “Laughs from the Past” on Saturday night at Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall. We parked our vehicles in the underground parkade and took the elevator up.

Not only was it our first time at this venue, it was also our first venture into city hall itself.

It was pretty impressive – or so we thought.

The performance ran from 8 p.m. to  9:30 p.m. After the show ended, we were more than slightly miffed by the substantial lineup at the parkade elevators.

With only two elevators and a large crowd of people, it was going to take a while to access our vehicles, so we opted for the stairs.

However, we couldn’t find them. When I asked the security guard for directions, we were told to exit the building, go around past a large concrete set of stairs and underneath and there we would find a door with access to the parkade.

Really? There was no internal access? That seemed weird. I had to ask the security guard more than once to clarify as his directions seemed vague, convoluted and unclear.

He was obviously not going to leave his comfy chair to show some confused “almost seniors” the way, preferring to merely point in the general direction instead.

We were soon to understand why. Even the security guard didn’t want to go there…

We did find the said stairwell eventually. Feeling a little uneasy, even with my big burly brave husband leading the way, it was unsettling, to say the least, having to go through an unsecured and not very well lit area into a little steel doorway with small letters marked “Parkade” under a set of stairs.

Our “spidey senses” were tingling. The whole thing felt eerie and wrong and fraught with potential peril. This was, after all, Surrey and we were out after dark. This doorway was open to the general public and anyone could come and go unseen. This was not our comfort zone.

Our uneasiness was confirmed once we stepped inside and rounded the first level of stairs when we came upon the drug paraphernalia of an obvious user. Syringes, blood-tinged gauze pads and other unfamiliar items lay strewn about.

The stench of urine was overwhelming and although my own heart was beating through my chest and I just wanted out of there, we continued our downward spiral stepping over and around careful to avoid contact with all items especially making sure not to step in the obvious puddle.

Are there CCTV cameras in there? If so, who was monitoring them?  I want to know.

This is City Hall for Pete’s sake! We just came from a professional public performance!

My head reeled.

Disgusted, we rounded the corner to be greeted with more of the same. There had been at least two druggies using the cover of that stairwell as an injection site.

How does this happen?

How does an event not protect their patrons?

How does someone not patrol that space when 100 or more people pay $30 a pop for 90 minutes of entertainment and can’t be guaranteed to safely access their vehicles?

How do you not pay someone $15 an hour to monitor that space for two hours?

There is disaster looming in that stairwell and someone is going to either die or be seriously injured in a robbery or God knows what if you happen to interrupt someone in the middle of shooting up – which, by the way, the design of this building (for whatever reason) seems particularly well suited.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s sad, sickening and unacceptable.

Heather Pendragon, Surrey

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