An absolute joke: Hurley slams Corrigans news conference over 2 security cameras for Burnaby park

Installing two security cameras to deter crime in the 220-acre Burnaby park where 13-year-old Marrisa Shens body was found last summer is an absolute joke, according to mayoral candidate Mike Hurley.

At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Derek Corrigan and Coun. Pietro Calendino, chair of the citys public safety committee, announced security cameras had been installed in Central Park as part of the Burnaby Citizens Association mayor and councils ongoing commitment to ensuring Burnaby is a safe place to live, work, learn and play.

Corrigan wouldnt tell reporters how many cameras had been installed, saying that might give criminals an advantage.

According Craig Collis, an assistant director with the citys parks, recreation and cultural services department, however, two cameras were installed over the past week.

Thats an absolute joke, Hurley told the NOW. Why even bother in a park this size? Most people have two outside their homes these days. To have a press conference because you have two cameras installed at Central Park, thats not much of a story.

In an interview last week, Collis told the NOW the city had planned to install five cameras to start with and consider more later on.

The security cameras were among six measures (municipal bike patrol, security cameras, 911 call boxes, park closures, trail lighting and improved signage) approved in principle by the Burnaby Citizens Association mayor and council a year ago to improve safety in local parks after Shens murder.

No call boxes have been installed, plans to install lights at Patterson Avenue, the area around Swangard Stadium and on Imperial Street have yet to come to fruition, and staff has set aside the idea of park closures for now because enforcement issues make them unfeasible, according to Collis.

When asked about the delay in installing the five initial security cameras, Collis said it takes time to get the necessary infrastructure in place, and the bike patrol had been a higher priority.

We thought that there would be better service through having actually patrollers, as in the bike patrol in the park, so that took a priority, he said.

The citys four bylaw officers on bikes, equipped with cellphones, have been patrolling local parks since May.

But the city was without its seven-member RCMP bike squad this summer because the local detachment didnt have enough officers for general duty work, according Chief Supt. Deanne Burleigh, who pulled the plug on the program before the summer.

The city has since agreed to fund the hiring of eight more cops this year and six more in 2019, allowing the RCMP to form a pared-down, four-member bike patrol.

Corrigan was unabashed when asked about the timing of the announcement about the security cameras (less than a month before the municipal election and less than two weeks after 28-year-old Ibrahim Ali was charged with Shens murder).

Well because theres an election coming up, so quite clearly Im making announcements that show people why they should come back and vote for me, vote for the councillors and school board, he said at the news conference.

In an interview with the NOW, Corrigan said installing the two cameras and establishing the bike patrol were key elements to improving safety in the park but acknowledged there is still work to do.

I havent lived up to all of our promises, and I think weve been pretty clear about that, he said. There are other things to do, and weve been very transparent about saying were continuing to do those things.

Hurley also criticized the security camera project because the cameras will not be monitored in real time.

The footage they record will be stored for a time (the city wouldnt say how long) and then deleted unless the city or police get a complaint.

Corrigan said monitoring the cameras would be very expensive and an undue invasion of park goers privacy.

If youre going to have cameras in our parks, lets monitor them, he told the NOW. If theres nothing wrong going on in the park, I dont see why anyone should have an issue with being monitored. Its a safety issue, and the safety issues to me override the privacy issue, given whats been going on in the park.

More cameras will soon be installed in Burnaby’s Central Park to increase safety and security in the area.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan made the announcement on September 25 at his re-election campaign office.

Corrigan stated that the new cameras are “an example of the fulfillment of the Burnaby Citizens Associations ongoing commitment to ensuring Burnaby is a safe place to live, work, learn and play.”

The news of more cameras comes just weeks after homicide investigators arrested and charged 28-year-old Ibrahim Ali with the murder of 13-year-old Marrissa Shen.

The Burnaby teen was found dead in the park in July 2017 and her death sparked uproar from residents who were concerned about safety in the park.

Nearly one year after Shen’s death, another violent attack took place in the park that left a senior with “life-altering injuries.”