Surrey’s top cop is promising a comprehensive plan in the coming weeks for an area known as the “Whalley Strip.”
The stretch of 135 A Street, just a block from City Hall has become notorious for homeless campers and addiction and mental health problems.
Chief Superintendent Dwayne McDonald says the initiative, which will be announced soon, will not only involve law enforcement but various agencies.
Surrey mayor Linda Hepner says the city has seen an escalation in the past year in the number of homeless taking up residence in the area.
That’s in part because of the clustering of services. The neighbourhood is home to Surrey Food Bank, along with a Lookout Society shelter and the Positive Haven social service centre.
Mayor Hepner was asked why she hasn’t done something sooner.
“We always try to attack it as best we can, but this last year, this past year, big escalation,” she said.
The city and RCMP’s response so far has been regular early morning visits by police and bylaw officers to roust the locals and clean up trash.
They’ve been moving tenters along, only for them to come back hours later.
Hepner says addressing the neighbourhood’s problems will be tough considering the number of social issues involved.