ZYTARUK: Not all Surrey migrants are bad news. But sadly, some are

They call it progress. For some people, that is. For others, it's time to move on, whether they like it or not.

They call it progress. For some people

So let it be written…

 

We’ve heard a lot about Syrian migrants. Today, I’m thinking about Surrey migrants.

The latter, of course, don’t have bombs raining down on their homes. Many don’t have homes. Nor do they risk drowning, although some do very nearly freeze.

These are the economically disadvantaged people who were pushed out of Whalley into Newton, after developers began knocking down older ranchers and bungalows in and around the city centre and set about erecting tall buildings in their stead. The city, of course, also got in the game with its new library and swank city hall.

Today they’re calling it the University District and I’m sure it may well grow into its name.

They call it progress. For some people, that is. For others, it’s time to move on, whether they like it or not.

This city has seen much migration over the past years, from neighbouring cities as well as within the city itself. I’ve seen a lot of social migration during my time as a reporter here in Surrey, and most carried with it an element of desperation and despair, as well as nimbyism.

In the early 1990s, after the Surrey Needle Exchange started operating on 135A Street, we saw an exodus of people come into Whalley from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

At roughly the same time, prostitutes and their johns were regularly lobbed back and forth between Whalley and Edmonds, depending on which police force was conducting a crackdown at the time. It was like an absurd tennis match between two jurisdictions, with the Fraser River being the net.

Likewise, many mentally ill people were pushed to the street after Woodlands Institution was closed.

Even typically sleepy Cloverdale experienced a little crime wave that was blamed on an “element” migrating there from elsewhere in Surrey.

Now Fleetwood is feeling it.

Rick Hart, president of the Fleetwood Community Association, noted this week at a Surrey Board of Trade breakfast meeting that although his community is relatively trouble-free compared to some other Surrey neighbourhoods he’s noticed some changes over the past year, and not for the good. Panhandlers, squatters, and graffiti. Businesses have complained about people “shooting up” drugs in business washrooms.

“It’s more than what we’ve seen before,” Hart said. He suspects it’s coming from Newton, Whalley and Langley.

Still, what are you going to do about it? Being poor is not a crime, nor is panhandling, unless intimidating or threatening behavior is involved.

At least we’re not Vancouver. That city made a bylaw in 1998 that banned panhandling within 10 metres of banks, bank machines and bus stops, prohibited sitting and lying on the street, and banned beggars from following people around and demanding their cash after they’ve said no.

A lot of good that did. Have you walked down Granville lately? Yeesh.

It seems whenever I’m downtown I have a little adventure with a panhandler, or the mentally ill. Once, this big guy got up into my face while I was crossing Robson at an intersection. I’ll never forget what he said, before he shuffled off: “Your baby’s in the garbage, you goof.”

The squeegee guy who pounced on my car on Seymour, and told me to “F-off” after I turned my wipers on to show I didn’t need or want his services. The guy from Quebec who extorted $1 from me to “watch” my car because I parked on “his” corner. He had a screwdriver in his hand, suggesting my car wouldn’t be in the same shape when I returned if I didn’t pony up.

These guys make it even rougher for decent people who are going through a rough patch. Not everybody on the street, or being bounced from one community to the next, wants to make a career of it.

And so many people are on the line these days. Vancity recently reported that the number of payday loans taken out by British Columbians spiked by 58 per cent between 2012 and 2014. During Toque Tuesday, designed to bring awareness to the plight of the homeless, organizer Tim Baillie noted that

some “very proud people try to make it look like they’re doing better than they are.”

We must remember that not all Surrey migrants are bad news. When we can, and are able, we should lend a helping hand. As for the others, use your street smarts.

 

So let it be done.

Just Posted

Friends of ‘Mac’ rally to fund young family left behind by former martial arts teacher in Surrey

‘He’s well loved,’ says operator of Fraser Heights academy where Mackenzie MacWilliams studied, worked

Surrey burglar loses appeal on Hook & Ladder break-in conviction

The case centred on a Jan. 3, 2016 break-in at the Newton pub

Police food drive to help feed North Delta kids

Donations collected will go support the Rotary Club’s Starfish Pack program

Seven years after daughter’s death, grieving mother issues new appeal for answers

Ashley Chauvin’s body was found near South Surrey’s Nicomekl River in July 2012

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

One million recyclable bottles “lost” daily in B.C., foundation says

387 million beverage containers didn’t make it back into the province’s regulated deposit refund system in 2017

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

VIDEO: Highway One to be widened east to 264th Street in Fraser Valley

The $235 million project includes upgrades to overpasses and a rail bridge

Most Read