Growing homeless camps along a stretch of Surrey railway have its operators worried there will be an accident, who say the problem started with a city crackdown on the Whalley Strip.
Singh Biln with Southern Rail of BC says in the last three months camps have been popping up along their tracks near Old Yale Road and Highway 17, as well as near 72nd Avenue.
“Our problem started, we believe, when they were evicted from the strip in the Whalley area. Immediately after, we started seeing homeless camps more than we’ve ever had.”
“In the past we might have one or two a year. Nothing too major, we deal with it, and that’s the end of it. But certainly it’s been sort of repetitive, we clean up the site and they’re back there within a few days.”
“In some places we’re so close to the railway right of way that there’s been some near misses, it’s very, very dangerous. Sometimes they get mad and throw some of their belongings out onto the track. We’ve seen sometimes even metal pieces, propane tanks. And some of these things could derail trains if they’re placed in the wrong place.”
Biln says there have been several near misses – along with dangerous debris left along the tracks.
He says he’s meeting with Surrey bylaw officers this week to talk options but says a real housing solution is needed to stop campers from being repeatedly moved back and forth between city and rail property.