WHALLEY — A homelessness advocate is calling on Surrey City Hall to bring back a temporary drinking fountain along 135A Street after a stretch of hot, sunny weather.
Erin Schulte, who runs the Pop-Up Soup Kitchen along the Strip, said she will be sending the city a letter calling for the city to immediately re-install the water fountain.
“The homeless came to me today begging me to ask the community to get their water supply turned back on,” Schulte told the Now-Leader on Tuesday. “It’s been a struggle already even with the few sunny days we have had.”
The city has supplied a temporary fountain there along the street in the past – one simply hooked up to a fire hydrant – but Schulte noticed its absence this week.
The fountain was first installed there in the summer of 2015, after advocate Sybil Rowe pushed city hall to do so after reading a story in this newspaper about Surrey Urban Mission requesting water bottle donations.
On Wednesday, Schulte says there are “more bodies than ever” in the tent city along 135A Street.
Asked if the city would be installing the fountain soon, Surrey bylaw manager Jas Rehal said “we are always taking action when dealing with extreme weather conditions” and “specifically, for the water fountain, we will be looking at it in conjunction with the modular housing coming online.”
He’s referring to the 160 units of modular housing for the homeless that are currently under construction on three properties in Whalley (see story on page 16).
This isn’t the first time Schulte has urged to city to put the drinking fountain back.
Last June, she launched a petition calling after she noticed the city hadn’t set up for the summer. She garnered roughly 800 signatures.
Schulte was thrilled when, in late July, the water fountain returned.
Last year, Schulte said she was concerned for the lives of those living along the embattled street as high temperatures persisted.
“The threat of heat stroke is a huge concern as there is little to no shade along the street,” she said at the time. “Members of the homeless population have said they would step up and ensure it’s kept clean if supplies were left available to them.
“They were out of energy,” she said last summer. “They were lying on the ground. People with heat stroke. People really, really sunburnt. We go overseas and we do wells for third-world countries to get them access to fresh water. Although there’s a sink inside the front room there’s 200 or more people on this Strip.”