Surrey’s 135A Street is home to a growing tent city. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Surrey’s 135A Street is home to a growing tent city. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Looking ahead to 2018: Unfinished business in Surrey

What will happen with Hawthorne Park, Surrey’s tent city and illegal suites in 2018?

The end of 2017 leaves several big issues lingering in Surrey.

For one, what will happen with the 105 Avenue Connector Project, which includes a heavily opposed road through Hawthorne Park?

With opponents vowing to physically block construction, and work set to begin in early January, things could get very heated very quickly in the New Year.

Will Surrey build the road as planned or will the Save Hawthorne Rotary Park group prove victorious in its battle to stop the road?

Time will tell.

See more: Emotions high after Surrey approves controversial road through Hawthorne Park

See also: Big battles waged in Surrey in 2017

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(Steven Pettigrew leads the Save Hawthorne Park group, fighting to stop the road. Photo: Amy Reid)

Then there’s the decades-old issue of illegal suites.

A report is expected in 2018 that considers the legalization of illegal Surrey suites.

This, after controversy surround Surrey city council’s decision to crack down on illegal suites in the East Clayton area in September following parking complaints in the area.

Ultimately, the city backed down and now awaits staff recommendations.

Will illegal suites be legalized in 2018?

It’s possible. But what will that look like, and how much will owners face in fees, if so?

See more: Surrey to halt Clayton evictions, legalize illegal suites city-wide

See also: By the numbers: 2017 Surrey shootings, crashes and more

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(The East Clayton neighbourhood has struggled with parking woes for years. File photo)

And as much as things change in Surrey, the more they stay the same. As much can be said about the growing tent city along 135A Street.

It’s estimated to have doubled in size in roughly a year.

Despite the creation of a Surrey Outreach Team that mans “the Strip” 24 hours a day, and despite city council creating more shelter spaces this year, the issue persists.

The province has committed to building 150 modular homes in the area. While Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says she welcomes them, she says the homes will fill just the more “urgent” needs.

Will these homes make a dent in the growing homeless population in the area?

See also: Global tragedies hit home in Surrey in 2017

See also: Boa constrictors, peacocks and other Surrey critters of 2017

See also: Top 10 B.C. videos of 2017

Then, there’s Councillor Tom Gill, who has said a “tough love” approach will soon hit the Strip.

Gill said the city has taken a “humanitarian” approach there for the past year, given the fentanyl crisis, but added that may change once more shelter is available.

“There comes a time that being a little more forceful in terms of having mandatory engagement and expectations from the street folks. That is what would be expected… I’d use the words, ‘tough love,’” he said in late August.

He said there’s a “very real expectation” from the business community to address the issues on 135A Street.

“There comes a time when you need to make tough decisions,” he said. “There is going to come a point in time, if someone is not going to want to comply with the offer for help, we will need to up the game.”

It appears next year is shaping up to be a year of change for the infamous Strip.

And, will 2018 see the end of court proceeding in the Surrey Six massacre?

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(Photo: Jamie Bacon)

Six men, including two innocent bystanders, were shot dead at the Balmoral Tower on Oct. 19, 2007.

Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston were convicted in 2014 of six counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy, but Red Scorpions gang leader Jamie Bacon is still going through the courts.

There was a huge outcry from the community after a BC Supreme Court decision was released on Dec. 1 that said a judge had granted Bacon’s application for a stay of proceedings in his trial on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

But in the days that followed, B.C.’s prosecution revealed it is appealing after the stay of charges, saying it had reviewed the abbreviated ruling, saying it reveals “errors of law” and that “the public interest requires an appeal.”

See also: SLIDESHOW: Surrey’s most read stories from 2017

See also: Surrey Year in Review: 2017 in photos



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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