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New social housing clears way to dismantle longtime tent city in Whalley


Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association welcoming 160 modular homes

Alliance Against Displacement says people calling that area home could end up in jail if they refuse to leave

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Depending who you ask, a longtime tent city in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood is being cleared out to make room for developers or because new homes have been found for most of the campers in the City Centre area.

The head of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, Elizabeth Model, is welcoming 160 modular homes making it possible to clear out the so-called Surrey Strip along 135-A Street.

“It’s been a very long-term frustration. We are all pleased to see something has been done and is being done and these vulnerable people are being taken care of because it’s impacted the businesses and now those businesses become vulnerable as well. We’ve lost within that area about ten of our businesses. It’s been very, very tough for everybody involved. Of course, we would have liked to have seen it sooner rather than later, but at least it’s being done.”

Government staff have confirmed it could take three days to clear out the Surrey Strip, but Dave Diewert with the Alliance Against Displacement says at least ten people currently calling that area home could end up in jail if they refuse to leave.

“It’s very clear that the way in which this is done is actually just to move people off that street who are in the way of massive development plans. Anybody who’s left over will have to go into shelters. They will be scrambling for whatever they can find and when they’re out there–scattered and alone–then, they become targets for bylaw employees to move them along or push them along.”

Metro Vancouver’s most recent homeless count found more than 600 in Surrey.