The newly set up tent city on Whalley’s 135A Street has already been dismantled.
Isabel Krupp, a member of Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism, said that bylaw officers delivered trespass notices early Wednesday afternoon (June 24) to the new tent city, dubbed “Whalley World Resort, Tent City 2.”
It was located on a city-owned lot at 10716 135A St., next to the bottle depot.
She said everyone was told to clear out and that there were shelter beds available at the emergency shelter at the old North Surrey Recreation Centre.
“Shelters aren’t homes. They’re not adequate or appropriate for many people living on the streets or who are unhoused for a variety of reasons,” Krupp said.
People were interested in “staying and defending the site,” said Krupp, adding that they hoped to “call the bluff” of the city.
“The idea, the feeling, at the camp was the City of Surrey doesn’t want to arrest a few dozen unhoused people.”
She said people felt that if they made a stand, they would be able to keep the tents up.
But as the day progressed, she said, “more and more” police started gathering at the site.
Krupp said they were told by police that they could leave, but they wouldn’t be allowed back in.
She said by 7 or 8 p.m., officers “moved through” moved through the tent city, “pressuring and intimidating” people to leave.
By 10 p.m., the last of the campers left, Krupp said.
The Now-Leader has reached out to the city, but had not heard back by Saturday afternoon.
“It was a sad day for the unhoused community in Whalley.”
Asked what the next steps are, Krupp said there are some ideas to “set up again” elsewhere.
“The community feels like the city of Surrey hasn’t listened, so there’s a sense that more action needs to be done.”
The new tent city was set up several days earlier following a rally on 135A Street on June 20 against gentrification in the city centre and the building of more condominiums there.
A press release for the rally stated it was protesting “against Mayor (Doug) McCallum’s plan to push low-income residents out of the neighbourhood and hand Whalley over to the rich.”
Two years earlier, 135A Street was cleared of tents and homeless people as the City of Surrey and BC Housing opened the three temporary modular sites.
At that time, BC Housing’s count showed 173 people lived along the stretch of road.
Just last year, campers set up “Sanctuary” tent city in a forested area, just off of King George Boulevard, heading toward the Pattullo Bridge.
– With files from Tom Zytaruk, Amy Reid