Surrey mayor says province needs to move faster on modular housing after tent city video goes viral

Click to play video: 'Growing homeless camp sparks call for action in Surrey' Growing homeless camp sparks call for action in Surrey
WATCH: Growing homeless camp sparks call for action in Surrey – Nov 28, 2017

In the wake of a viral video depicting a growing tent city on Whalley’s so-called “strip,” Surrey’s mayor says she wants a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to modular housing units for the homeless.

The video, shot by Joe McNeely, was posted to Facebook this weekend, where it has now racked up nearly 250,000 views.

It shows dozens of tents lining 135A Street, which has become a de facto homeless camp in recent years.

READ MORE: Facebook video of growing homeless camp in Surrey goes viral

Upon viewing the video, Mayor Linda Hepner said she shares McNeely’s concerns.

“I absolutely share the sentiment, there is no place for the kind of tent city we’ve seen expanding.”

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Watch the full video below (warning, foul language used)

The province has announced 150 units of modular housing for Surrey’s homeless, which are slated to be ready by February.

But Hepner said that’s not enough.

READ MORE: Surrey mayor says Whalley strip ‘urgently’ needs supportive housing

“I need those 150 now,” she said. “They don’t want to be in shelters because some of them are couples and they want a place where they can go together, some of them have pets. We don’t want to take them way from their pets.”

Hepner added that she is frustrated with the pace of new housing, particularly with Vancouver set to get 600 of the new modular units.

“[It] really does need to be speeded up. I’m worried that all those folks that are homeless on the streets right now, they are going to remain there throughout the winter, and I just think that’s unacceptable.”
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READ MORE: Drugs may be to blame for ‘Whalley Strip’ tent fire that hurt two

Last winter, the B.C. Coroners Service issued a warning after three homeless people’s deaths were linked to the cold weather.

On Monday, the City of Vancouver approved its second modular housing complex, and two additional locations are already on the drawing board.

In September, the NDP government pledged to build 2,000 of the temporary units in communities across the province.

Metro Vancouver’s latest homeless count found more than 3,600 people living on the region’s streets.

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