Volunteers during the March 8 homeless count in Surrey. (Photo: Amy Reid)

LETTER: City of Surrey clearly cares little for homeless people on the Strip

Rather, its prime concern is the “health” of economic development and the “safety” of businesses

The Editor,

Re: “Allow homeless to use tarps in heavy rain, resident urges City of Surrey,” the Now-Leader online.

It’s been almost a year since the City of Surrey launched its City Centre Response Plan to deal with the “public health and safety” crisis on the strip.

What has become disturbingly obvious is that the city cares little about the health and safety of the homeless folks forced to live on the sidewalk of 135A Street.

Its prime concern is the “health” of economic development and the “safety” of business and property owners in the area.

Instead of providing housing and health care to the homeless population on the strip, the city has installed a regime of punishment and surveillance.

Banning tarps is just the latest tactic in this strategy, and its underlying message is clear: “we don’t want you to die by fire, but we’re OK if you get sick and die by pneumonia or the flu or other infections that further destroy your bodies already exhausted by poverty and homelessness.”

Let’s face it, Surrey’s “outreach team” of 12 cops and four bylaw performs an “outreach” function for the prison industrial complex. They are not social workers, health workers or housing advocates. They carry guns and the laws they enforce, in arbitrary and punitive ways, serve the interests of the property-owning class.

So it’s not that surprising that after nearly a year the homeless population has grown, the physical and mental health conditions of their lives have gotten worse, and there has been no provision of secure and dignified housing.

For the residents of the strip, the city’s “public health and safety” strategy is one of punishment and elimination, plain and simple.

Dave Diewert, Surrey

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