A front line worker says “less drugs, more trust, care, and compassion” are some of the changes taking place along Surrey’s so-called Whalley strip.
The stretch of 135-A street has become infamous in recent years for drug use and homelessness issues.
Mike Musgrove is Executive Director of the Surrey Urban Mission that’s only a block from the strip where a new police and bylaws team is in place trying to connect the homeless with services.
Musgrove says the spinoffs are remarkable, most noticeable are fewer overdoses.
“The number of times we’re having to administer Narcan or do CPR or call the ambulance for drug overdoses has decreased, it seems to correlate with the command centre put down on the strip.”
Musgrove says a trust is building between the homeless and police and there’s not the “scattering” of people as before.
“There’s a lot more care and compassion and it is filtering down. The bylaw and police I’ve heard complaints about them in the past, now I’m not hearing anything anymore if anything I’m hearing more positive stuff.”
The new response plan for the area was announced in December and includes an outreach team of 12 RCMP officers and four bylaw officers who are partnering with health and community services in the area.
The unit provides a 24/7 presence on the strip and is meant to provide support for the marginalized community while easing the safety and security concerns of local residents and businesses.