LETTER: Now, wait just a minute – I love living in Whalley

As someone who lives in Whalley, letters like the one I just read in the Now-Leader misrepresent my amazing neighbourhood.

The Editor,

Re: “I gave Surrey a second chance – what a mistake,” the Now letters, May 17.

As someone who lives in Whalley, letters like this misrepresent my neighbourhood.

I like Whalley!

Yes, we do have problems with the homeless (many of which have a drug addiction), but as someone who has served at NightShift Street Ministries quite a few times, the homeless and addicted aren’t scary or disrespectful, as this letter claims.

In fact, when we pass each other in the neighbourhood, they always remember me and say hi.

I have been at Gateway many times at night and believe me, it is no different than any other SkyTrain station at night.

In fact, I feel safer at Gateway. The cab drivers remember me by name and the SkyTrain police are friendly and keep an eye out.

I remember waiting at 29th Station for a cab. I didn’t feel safe there, as there were no SkyTrain police around and the lighting isn’t the greatest. I also didn’t feel safe at Brentwood Station because people were shooting up in the elevator. And at Columbia, I almost got pushed over because of a fight that started in front of me when purchasing a ticket (during the day no less).

Do bad things happen in Surrey? I’m sure they do, but I also know that my neighbours and I keep an eye out for each other – and I don’t know if they do that in other areas of the Lower Mainland.

As for our city officials, they are between a rock and a hard place. Yes, we have what some might call “skid row,” but those people are people just like you and I, and deserve a home.

When I see it, I don’t feel scared or angry – I feel sad. Talking to many of them, I’ve learned their stories – it is a long road to get where they are and it is a sad one.

I have personally talked to city officials and they are working toward a solution – one that doesn’t include kicking them out but rather finding homes for them.

Is it a harder way? Yes, but it is much more humane than simply moving them along.

Whalley is a great place to live. I have a beautiful home with a great backyard and lovely deck to have my coffee in the morning.

I can’t wait for the weather to warm up. I know most of my neighbours, and everyone is friendly when I walk to Safeway or Starbucks.

I love that we have a huge baseball park where every weekend, kids get to play sports. I love the fact that I get to share my music in my neighbourhood where each summer, a piano is put at Surrey Centre. I love the fact that I have great shopping options right in my area.

So, they’re still working on sidewalks – this was rural area that has quickly turned into a city.

Simply put, I love my neighbourhood.

Natalia Pardalis, Surrey