Residents of Surrey tent city resist displacement: ‘We have nowhere else to go’

Click to play video: 'Surrey explores options on moving tent city' Surrey explores options on moving tent city
The City of Surrey is exploring options on how to move a tent city in a wooded area, but some residents of the camp are refusing to go anywhere. Grace Ke reports – Jul 9, 2019

About 50 homeless people are camping in a wooded lot off of Surrey’s King George Boulevard near 112 Avenue in an area they call “Sanctuary.”

They are vowing to stay until they get housing.

“We have nowhere else to go,” said Wanda Stopa, who has been homeless in Surrey for more than six years.

READ MORE: Oppenheimer Park campers displace more events, but organizers say ‘no problem’

“This is our home, it’s our sanctuary, and we won’t let them take it from us.”

According to campers, bylaw officers told them they would be dispersed on Tuesday.

But the City of Surrey says that’s not the case and they’re working with several agencies to find housing. The city has expressed concern about open fires and use of propane tanks at the site.

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“We’re not moving until we get housing,” camper Rory Kohinsky said. “I’m not talking about shelter beds or modular units, I mean real social housing.”

In Vancouver, an encampment at Oppenheimer Park has led to suggestions of creating a sanctioned tent city.

WATCH: Downtown Vancouver Business Association calls for ‘sanctioned’ tent city

Click to play video: 'Downtown Vancouver Business Association calls for “sanctioned” tent city' Downtown Vancouver Business Association calls for “sanctioned” tent city
Downtown Vancouver Business Association calls for “sanctioned” tent city – Jul 8, 2019

Stopa says a sanctioned area for homeless campers would be “a glorified jail cell.”

“Then there is going to be rules and regulations and entrapments that none of us want,” she said.

“We want our home because then you can have your freedom. You can still be yourself.”

In the meantime, campers are demanding that the City of Surrey provide basic services such as regular garbage pickup, water, and washroom facilities.


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