An open letter to Strathallen Property Management Inc., Toronto. Attention: Laetitia Pacaud, chief operating officer.
Dear Ms. Pacaud: I am writing to you to let you know why I will not be shopping at any of the retail outlets in the Royal City Centre mall, New Westminster in the near future. I believe that it is important that you hear this complaint from one of the mall customers, as it is unlikely that you will hear it passed up from the mall management office in question.
I am a senior and I had come to the Royal City Centre mall on Tuesday to shop at the Safeway store. I pulled my car into Level 2 in the parkade which is the level at the same elevation as the Safeway store entrance.
On pulling in, I found that at least half of the parkade in front of the Safeway was fenced off for maintenance. Maintenance is perfectly understandable and I'm willing to accept that.
However, the remainder of the parkade at that level was considerably crowded so I proceeded up to Level 1 and parked my car at the end closest to the Safeway store. I will add at this point that I have parked my car at this location many times in the past and gone shopping at the Safeway.
There is an exit stairway adjacent to the Safeway entrance (Stairway 14) and I was able to use the stairway to go from Level 1 down to Level 2 as I have done numerous times in the past.
On finishing my shopping at Safeway, I re-entered this stairwell to go back up to Level 1 carrying my groceries up the stairs only to find that the door was locked from the stairwell side and that I couldn't
enter to the parking where my car was located.
I went back to the Safeway service desk and expressed my concern, only to be advised that Safeway had made numerous calls to the mall management with no success at getting this issue rectified. I proceeded to the mall office where I got a very cold and unsympathetic hearing.
I was advised that it was a security issue as drug dealings had been going on in that stairwell.
I'm not sure how locking the doors to make it difficult for customers to get to and from their cars is going to control drug dealings and suggested that a few more security rounds would likely be much more effective.
If you hadn't been working on the parkade, there would have been more parking on the P2 level close to Safeway and this might not be an issue, but I suggest that at least while you have the parkade being repaired, as a convenience to the customers of the stores in the mall, you might consider unlocking this door (Stairway 14).
Yes, I know that there are other pedestrian stairways between the parkade floors and the retail levels. However, these stairways are more centrally located in the parking mall and require walking a considerably greater distance, an issue for a senior carrying groceries.
I hope that the mall management will always remember that the goal of this facility is to provide convenient and comfortable access for customers choosing to support the businesses located there. For now, I will choose to support other stores in my community that are providing parking and other support features that are encouraging customers.
Parking at the Westminster Mall for Save-on-Foods, London Drugs and others, or parking at the McBride mall or the Columbia Square mall are all more convenient and customer friendly.
Douglas J. Whicker, New Westminster