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Cleanup of ‘Whalley Strip’ not necessarily a quick fix for Surrey business owners

Cleanup of ‘Whalley Strip’ not necessarily a quick fix for Surrey business owners - image

Now that the people who once called Surrey’s Whalley Strip home are in temporary housing and the street is cleaned up, do business owners in the area feel a renewed sense of hope?

It depends who you talk to — some are still feeling the effects.

READ MORE: With homeless housed, Surrey works to keep Whalley Strip clear

“They are sitting in front of my store doing injections. That’s really bad for my business, my business went down almost 30 to 40 per cent and that’s a lot for a convenience store guy,” said the owner of the Whalley Convenience Store, half a block from 135 A Street.

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Meantime, the woman who runs Ariana Islamic Gift Market on King George Boulevard said business is up.

Modular housing units in Surrey, B.C.
Modular housing units in Surrey, B.C.

“Now the people come into my store, property is safe, before it was not safe, the customer is scared.”

READ MORE: ‘Whalley Strip’ homeless housed, city says it’s just the beginning

She said that up until a few weeks ago, her store was broken into on a regular basis and she had to employ two people to keep watch at the front and back of the store.

Elizabeth Model, head of the Whalley Business Improvement Association, said that business owners in general are much happier.

Cleanup of ‘Whalley Strip’ not necessarily a quick fix for Surrey business owners - image
“I’ve had feedback that the area has never looked so clean and it’s [a] better ambiance for the employees and customers,” she said.
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READ MORE: ‘A change in our whole life:’ Hope from Surrey homeless as new housing opens

“But it’s going to be a long recovery because they’ve really suffered.”

Model says over the years, when the homeless were living on the Whalley strip, up to two dozen businesses moved out of the area.

They said at the time that drugs, prostitution, needles and break-ins were killing business and keeping customers away.

She says one business was a “top five” Japanese restaurant in Metro Vancouver.

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