A savage attack on a man who had just stepped off a bus at the Langley City bus loop has jumpstarted efforts to improve both visibility and safety at the stop.
On Monday night, Langley City council approved a plan to contribute $32,500 toward lighting upgrades at the City’s main bus stop, located at the corner of Logan Avenue and Glover Road.
TransLink will contribute an additional $21,500, for a total of $54,000 in improvements, which will include new light standards and twice the current number of bulbs, which will be higher wattage than those now in place.
The City had been in discussion with TransLink for several months about sharing costs to improve public safety at the bus stop, which is located on a dark street in front of a largely vacant mall.
However late last month, the need for the upgrades took on a new urgency.
On Nov. 28, Chris Lafrenier was beaten and robbed by a pair of teenagers near the bus exchange. He suffered a broken nose, a chipped tooth, a concussion and lacerations to his head in the attack.
Because of the extent of his injuries, Lafrenier will be unable to work for an indeterminate amount of time.
After The Times reported his story, the public quickly stepped up, donating more than $12,000 to a GoFundMe campaign that had aimed to raise $5,000 for Lafrenier and his wife, in addition to several other funds set up on their behalf. (See separate story, page 3).
In a briefing note, City engineer Rick Bomhoff indicated that council could choose to postpone the work until the spring, after the 2015 capital improvement plan has been approved.
“However, there is an urgent need to upgrade the lighting at the bus exchange with recent public safety issues at the location,” Bomhoff wrote.
“We’ve had issues in that particular area,” said Mayor Ted Schaffer, before calling the question on the funding allocation.
With the money having been committed by TransLink, he urged council to move ahead on the upgrades.
“Let’s light that place up like an airport runway,” he said.
The only other member who spoke before council voted unanimously to spend $29,000 from its enterprise fund to pay its portion of the upgrades, was Councillor Dave Hall.
“I understand why we want to get on with this right away, and that’s why we’re using the present enterprise fund. But what’s the difference between using capital funding from next year?”
Calling the practice “smoke and mirrors,” Hall said it amounted to another year-end scramble to use up the council’s discretionary fund.
“Don’t come back and suggest the enterprise fund is anything but a slush fund,” he said, before voting with the rest of council to spend the money.
The balance of the City’s share — $3,500 — will be taken from its engineering operating budget.
City CAO Francis Cheung said the materials to carry out the upgrades will be ordered immediately. He expects they will take between 10 and 12 weeks to arrive and will be installed in February or March.