Surrey strip overrun

Surrey businesses may finally have had enough after they say they have been overrun by homelessness, drug use and crime.

"It's a nightmare for any business to come across the stuff we have to deal with on a daily basis," said Paul Chen, who runs Centreline Auto Repair, located on 106 Avenue at the end of 135A Street.

The scene looks much like Vancouver's downtown eastside, with
about 130 people living in tents on a section of 135A Street known as the "Whalley Strip" or simply, "The Strip."

"It's pretty bad. We continue to see a rise in the number of people that are both losing their lives and are just overdosing, but we try to keep that number to a minimum," said Jacob Lee of St. John Ambulance, a volunteer group that helps paramedics and firefighters respond to overdose calls.

Many business owners say the cost of the damage and loss of revenue is too much to bear.  One man says as many as 17 businesses in the area have shut down in the past year alone.

The city and the province have announced $13 million to build three modular housing units for Surrey's homeless. The city also says another 250 units will come online later this year which will be transitional housing.

Some of the people living in tents, however, say modular housing is an inadequate solution they are unlikely to be part of.

"It's putting lipstick on a pig," one man told CTV News. "The housing isn't designed to get people out of here…It's not a place where they're setting up to offer recovery.

"It's a trap. It seems like every time you screw up, you end up back here."

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