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'People have lost everything they own': Advocates say Surrey forced displacement of tent city residents

Last Updated Dec 1, 2019 at 8:10 pm PST

According to the Alliance Against Displacement, some of the tents 'Sanctuary Tent City' have been torn down by city staff, bulldozing both abandoned and occupied sites. SOURCE: Alliance Against Displacement

Advocates say a city officials committed a series of violations when they dismantled the Sanctuary Tent City

Alliance Against Displacement will be holding a press conference to call on the city to fast-track affordable housing

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — An advocacy group for the homeless is taking the City of Surrey to task for the dismantlement of a local homeless encampment.

Isabelle Krupp with the Alliance Against Displacement says they plan to outline a series of violations which occurred when city officials took down a portion of the tent city last month.

“For three full days, the City of Surrey mobilized police, bylaw officers, a dozen city workers, and heavy equipment in order to remove homeless residents from the encampment, known as Sanctuary Tent City,” Knupp says. “In the process some people have lost everything they own. So they’ve lost their bedding, their tents, their heaters, their bicycles. One man lost mementos from his father who is now dead.”

Knupp says city officials deliberately misinformed campers in an attempt to force them out.

“Through the month of November by-law officers were telling campers at Sanctuary tent city that as soon as the shelter’s full everyone has to pack up camp and be out of there, that the camp will be bulldozed.”

According to Knupp, it’s just one example of a “war on the poor” in Surrey.

“That includes the displacement of the Surrey strip a year and a half ago. That includes the recent by-laws banning people from camping in their vehicles–all of these laws and by-laws that criminalize and try to drive people out of the city of Surrey.”

On Monday, former residents of the camp will be speaking about their experiences at a news conference where advocates will call on city council to fast-track social housing construction at the site of the camp on King George Boulevard.

“As long as the homelessness crisis continues and people are forced to endure harsh winter conditions, the City of Surrey must provide homeless communities with the basic resources they need,” the group says.

After the eviction, the city allowed some campers to set up tents on an adjacent municipally-owned property, and put out a statement saying, “No one was forced to move.”