No more tents along 135A Street. (Submitted photo)

OUR VIEW: Applause earned for Surrey strip cleanup, but too early to claim victory

City of Surrey must ensure a new tent city doesn’t re-emerge on 135A, or form elsewhere in the city

While it is indeed a glorious sight to see all those tents removed from Whalley’s notorious 135A Street strip, let’s not be uncorking the champagne quite yet.

There’s a brave new world down on that forlorn roadside, but it will be a challenge to prevent the bad old days of drug abuse, despair and hopelessness from creeping back in.

Bringing you up to speed, Surrey’s best-known worst social tragedy was subject to a seismic change last week when homeless people were moved into 160 modular housing units and shelters nearby. Before, scores of tents occupied by an estimated 173 people lined the sidewalk. While the mass exodus will hopefully be a life-changing event for those recognizing the profound opportunity presented to them through this City of Surrey and provincial government initiative, sadly some of the displaced homeless have set up camp in forests and ravines elsewhere in Whalley.

READ ALSO: Tents gone from Surrey’s 135A Street, but not all accepted housing: city

It’s difficult, of course, to help those who are not yet ready to grab on to the figurative lifesaver that’s being extended to them. Hopefully they will come to their senses.

In the meantime, it is incumbent on the City of Surrey to ensure a new tent city doesn’t re-emerge on 135A, or form elsewhere in the city.

Paul Chen, of Centreline Auto Repair, has been operating his business in the vicinity of 135A’s infamous tent city for four years. Many other merchants, sadly, have moved on.

“Everybody has their hopes up,” he told the Now-Leader, in the wake of the big relocation. “This is the first step; we’re just trying to make a living and hope for the best.

“Hopefully customers will finally not be afraid to come here.”

Good work has been done. But clearly, it must also continue to be done to prevent a slide back into the chaos that was 135A Street as recent as last week.

Now-Leader



edit@surreynowleader.com

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