File photo of Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner Photo: Ray Hudson

Surrey: The City of Surrey and Surrey RCMP have launched their City Centre Response Plan to address the public safety and public health concerns for both the homeless and the community in the 135A area. The plan will address three key areas:

  1. Enhanced Outreach and Presence on 135A
  2. Emergency Housing
  3. Engagement and Education.

“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 creation of the Surrey Outreach Team will provide for an enhanced outreach and presence in the 135A Street area. The Surrey Outreach team is an integrated approach to addressing the significant public safety, public health, and quality of life issues in the area in and around 135A Street in the City Centre area of Surrey. Our 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,” says Chief Superintendent 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.”

The Team will be comprised of 12 Surrey RCMP officers and 4 Bylaw officers who will work out of a satellite office (opening in early 2017) in the heart of 135A, in partnership with health and community services.  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 who are preying on the vulnerable in the area;
  • Increase public safety and protection of property of area businesses and residents;
  • Help those in need access the agencies that can assist them with recovery and treatment.

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.