Surrey considers creating additional homeless shelter in Whalley

The City of Surrey contemplates more help for those living on the streets.

Homeless on the streets of Surrey.

Homeless on the streets of Surrey.

WHALLEY — Surrey is looking into creating an additional shelter for the homeless at 105th Avenue and 135A Street.

Surrey’s existing winter shelter at 10677 Whalley Blvd. is set to be open until next April, thanks to a $1 million boost from the province, and it’s consistently full, said Jean Lamontagne, Surrey’s general manager of planning. He noted the winter shelter serves just over 40 people.

SEE MORE: Province commits $1M to keep Surrey winter shelter open year-round

“The advisory committee has made the suggestion/request for the city and BC Housing to find a potential second site in order to reduce the number of homeless individuals in the city,” he noted.

The new shelter, if approved, would be within blocks of the existing Gateway emergency shelter on 135A Street.

Lamontagne said the city has had discussions with BC Housing on potential funding for a new site.

On April 20, the city, local agencies and BC Housing opened emergency beds – mats on floors – in places such as Surrey Urban Mission Society (SUMS) and Hyland House.

SUMS director Michael Musgrove said their 20 beds are full every night.“People are being spread out more now for sure, they were pushed out of the ‘Strip,’” he said.

“It’s still busy on the strip but there’s not as much tenting. But you will see, just by driving around, in any kind of nook and cranny right now there are people. It’s harder to know how many people are sleeping outside right now.”

The Downtown Surrey BIA has requested to speak as a delegation before city council regarding the possibility of a new shelter in the area.

The BIA has long been opposed to the proliferation of social services in the area north of 104th Avenue citing concerns of children in nearby playgrounds, veterans at the Whalley legion, elders and youth at the community centre, impact on local residents and small businesses striving to make ends meet.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com