The University of Alberta will be locking HUB Mall during the evening and considering further security changes to alleviate residents’ concerns.
All 58 ground-level exterior doors leading to HUB residence stairwells will now be locked at all times, with residents having key access. Other doors connecting to HUB at the mall concourse level will be locked through OneCard access readers during the night. The university said the upgrades will be completed before students return for fall term 2019.
Robert Pawliuk, director of operations for facilities and operations, said the intention of these improvements is to maintain normal operations during the day but “completely secure” the residence in the evening.
“[These changes are intended] to guide users of HUB mall to use main entrances as opposed to residence entrances,” Pawliuk said.
HUB is currently the only residence at the U of A which is not locked, providing anyone access into the building.
Outgoing Students’ Union vice-president (student life) Andre Bourgeois said he was “excited” to have the university improve security for residents living in HUB.
“The university listened to us, the HUB Community Association, and concerned residents,” Bourgeois said. “Finally steps are being taken to improve the security situation.”
Further security changes are being considered as well after a report conducted by an independent contractor was completed.
Report details other security upgrades necessary
The report, titled Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Review: HUB Mall, was developed by Urban Security Innovation a third-party firm hired by the university to provide recommendations. The approximately 60-page document is still only an internal document.
The Gateway received access to the draft report which will be released later this year.
Aside from locking exterior doors, the report made the following recommendations to the university:
- Installation of additional closed-circuit television cameras.
- Placement of convex mirrors in all resident stairwells.
- Better lighting in the drive through areas.
- Maintenance of bushes and greenery around HUB Mall to provide better sightlines.
- A complete overhaul of the HUB resident mail room.
- Updated exterior and interior signage.
- Establish a HUB kiosk on the concourse level with a security agent stationed there.
The drive-through areas underneath the building were described by the report as “foreboding areas” that are “dark” and have minimal lighting. It said better lighting should be installed and in a consistent manner.
The report said the majority of interior spaces within HUB Mall are “generally secure.” It said one area which required significant improvement was the resident mail room in HUB. It found fault with how the room is “accessible to everyone.”
“The Postal Worker is exposed when opening the boxes delivering mail and students are exposed when collecting mail,” the report said. “Just the simple act of turning their back when they open their mail boxes exposes them as they cannot see if anyone is approaching them from behind.”
The report noted some criminal activity had occurred in the mail room area before. Additionally, after conducting focus groups with some HUB Mall residents, female students said they would travel in pairs just to pick up their mail.
The report recommended a “complete overhaul” of the mail room mirroring how the HUB laundry room is designed. The laundry area for residents is a separate room which is locked by a OneCard access system. The report said this design would help alleviate residents concerns.
Jared Larsen, incoming vice-president (student life) and former HUB Community Association president, said the mail room is a challenging area within the building. He hopes it will be addressed in the future.
Pawliuk said the main priority is to lock exterior doors during the evening. He added that all other recommendations from the report are secondary for the time being.
“The key here is we want to make sure the building is fully locked up after hours for residents first,” he said.
Larsen said he was pleased with the report and the work being done by the university to address security concerns in HUB.
“We are very happy that the university plans to have the doors locked by the time fall semester begins,” Larsen said. “We are excited to continue working with the administration to see the full plan to fruition.”
Pawliuk said there is no timeline for the implementation of these changes.
“Once we have the final report in our hands and understand all the costs associated with the secondary items, then it is the institutions job to figure out how and when we are going to do those other items.”