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Should Surrey create a campsite for its homeless?

It’s an idea floated by a Whalley service provider, and city says ‘nothing is off the table at this point’

As the City of Surrey continues to “monitor” a homeless camp near the Bridgeview area, one service provider wonders if it’s time to think about setting up an actual campsite for the many people living in tents in this city.

“It would be interesting to do something like put in campsites, have the city come in, put in actual campsites, and we all know it’s temporary until people get housing,” said Michael Musgrove, executive director of Surrey Urban Mission Society, which offers daily meal service and also runs a 50-bed shelter which is full every night.

“You could find a way to get water to one location, and people could fill up tanks. Get a couple port-a-potties in there and a couple garbage cans,” he mused. “I’d be willing to go down there to make sure things are OK, that things are clean.”

Read also: ‘FIGHT 4 HOMES’: Surrey homeless call for housing one year after tent city dismantled

Kim Marosevich, Surrey’s bylaw services manager, didn’t shoot the idea down but said it would have to be “explored thoroughly.”

“I would like to think that from the city’s perspective, and all of our partner agencies, nothing is off the table at this point that would help us help people. This is an ongoing issue that impacts human lives significantly,” she said.

There would, of course, need to be an evaluation of what the impacts would be: “What are the risks, and what are the benefits?”

“If you think of Oppenheimer Park (in Vancouver) and larger cities internationally, whether or not there are official plans to facilitate that or whether they just happen and they’re just unofficially existing, it’s in the spectrum of housing at this point in time and this day in age, sadly. People are living in tents,” said Marosevich.

Read also: Count finds 49 per cent more homeless people in Surrey

“Our end goal is to not have people living in tents and living rough,” she added. “But how we do that? Unfortunately I don’t have all the answers. We all know there’s so many elements that play into this.”

Marosevich said as a community, “we sometimes forget that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution” and that people “have different needs.”

Meantime, Marosevich said the city continues to “monitor” the homeless camp near Bridgeview, and is trying to connect its residents to resources and ultimately, housing.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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