Surrey Bylaw officers threaten to displace new homeless camp, homeless campers announce plans to resist

surreypolicebylaw

For Immediate Release
Monday, July 8, 2019

SURREY, BC (Unceded Coast Salish Territories): Surrey bylaw enforcement officers are threatening to displace over 50 homeless people, who are camping in a wooded lot off of King George Blvd past 112th Ave, which campers have named ‘Sanctuary.’ On Tuesday, June 9, campers are holding a news conference to announce their plans to resist this displacement and defend their collective home.

Last week, bylaw officers told campers they would disperse the camp on Tuesday, July 9. Wanda Stopa, who has been homeless in Surrey for over six years, said, “We have nowhere else to go. This is our home, it’s our sanctuary, and we won’t let them take it from us.”

What: Press conference
When: Tuesday, July 9 at 8:00 AM
Where: North side of King George Blvd, west of 112th Ave

The City of Surrey closed down the high profile homeless camp on 135A Street in June 2018, but according to Wanda, “They didn’t solve anything. We’re all still homeless.” Rory Kohinsky, a ‘Sanctuary’ resident, said, “A lot of us living here were shuffled off of the Surrey Strip into the shelters or the bush, and eventually we found our way here.” 

When asked to describe the ‘Sanctuary’ homeless camp, Rory Kohinsky, a camper, said, “It’s a community of friends. We look after each other and keep each other safe.” Homeless deaths in Surrey quadrupled between 2007 and 2016, and homeless people continue to die in the streets. But according to Wanda, “By building community and looking out for each other, we can save lives.” 

Homeless people living in the wooded lot known as ‘Sanctuary’ say they will resist any efforts to displace the camp. “We’re not moving until we get housing. I’m not talking about shelter beds or modular units. I mean real social housing,” said Rory. In the meantime, campers are demanding that the City of Surrey provide the same basic services that other Surrey residents receive: regular garbage pickup, water, and washroom facilities.