Several homeless camped out on Surrey's notorious strip on 135A Street.

Several homeless camped out on Surrey's notorious strip on 135A Street.

Program to attack Surrey’s `strip’

A dozen police officers and four bylaw officers will provide 24/7 presence on the troubled strip on 135A Street

Surrey is launching a fresh attack on the city’s notorious “strip” in Whalley.

A dozen RCMP officers and 4 bylaw officers will descend on the area around 135A Street and 106 Avenue to address public safety and ongoing health concerns along the strip.

The officers, along with other first responders, including firefighters, will address emergency housing needs and education through outreach.

“As is the case with all municipalities in the region, Surrey is facing increased challenges related to homelessness, mental health issues and Fentanyl use,” said Mayor Linda Hepner. “With the City Centre Response Plan, we are taking tangible, concrete action on addressing the public safety issues that area businesses and residents are faced with on a regular basis, while addressing the public health challenges that affect the vulnerable who are easily preyed upon and exploited.”

The Surrey Outreach team is hoped to provide an integrated approach to addressing the significant public safety, public health, and quality of life issues in the area in and around 135A Street.

The focus will be on protecting and assisting the vulnerable people who frequent this area as well as ensuring that others can safely live and operate their businesses in the area.

“First responders have had to attend the 135A area on an increasingly frequent basis resulting in an ineffective solution which sees us connecting with these people briefly as a result of the call for service and then leaving,” said Chief Supt. Dwayne McDonald. “The Surrey Outreach Team seeks to change the way we approach the issues in this area with enhanced policing and a dedicated team that is here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

By providing a 24/7, visible, coordinated presence of police, bylaws and social services to help those in need in the area, the goal is to target those preying on the vulnerable, increase public safety and assist other agencies.

With winter here, a key priority is to ensure that the community and service providers are aware of the Emergency Housing beds and spaces available in Surrey. The City’s recently approved Winter Shelter will create 40 new beds, while our extreme weather response program will provide an additional 95 spaces for those in need during the cold winter months.

The third prong of the plan calls for continual engagement and consultation with community stakeholders to review and evaluate what is working and what can be improved on.

Additional information can be found in the attached backgrounder.