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Surrey’s acting mayor calls for more homeless shelters amid safety concerns

Click to play video: 'Popular Surrey restaurant closing due to crime problems' Popular Surrey restaurant closing due to crime problems
July 2017: Popular Surrey restaurant closing due to crime problems – Jul 13, 2017

Surrey’s acting mayor says his city needs more permanent shelter space, and funding from the province to build it.

Tom Gill made the comments in reaction to a new ‘safety audit’ from the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association which found drug-related issues are hurting local businesses.

LISTEN: A staggering number of businesses in Whalley have been the victims of assaults and thefts

At least six businesses have closed on King George Boulevard saying they can’t operate thanks to the drug dealing, drug use, and theft.

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Gill said getting people off the streets into housing would offer a start when it comes to addressing the problems.

“There’s no question I think the City of Surrey’s been lacking as a result of not having the numbers that Vancouver has in terms of homelessness shelters and supports,” Gill said.

READ MORE: Surrey crime dropped double-digits in 2016

He added that a change in government could herald good news for the city as far as funding goes.

“What I’m hopeful for is that the new provincial government would be putting in significant provisions for some additional housing over the next short term, and I’m very optimistic that some of those resources will materialize in very short order.”

Gill said the city has identified a number of locations for permanent shelters but can’t afford to move of the projects until they have partners at other levels of government.

READ MORE: Surrey’s homeless march to protest ‘unfair’ treatment by city staff

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Back in December, Surrey launched a new combined policing and bylaw unit designed to work with local social services.

The unit is tasked with connecting the area’s homeless with services and housing, while providing a 24/7 police presence.

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