Rail campers displaced from Surrey parks

Surrey bylaw official says the city has to work a delicate balance in keeping everyone safe

Homeless people setting up camp near railway tracks are believed to have been displaced from Newton parks.

Surrey’s manager of bylaw enforcement Jas Rehal said summer has brought on significant activity in Newton green spaces, particularly Unwin Park (13313 68 Ave.) and Hyland Park (6542 138 St.).

“What’s happened is we’ve been doing some enforcement over the park lands,” Rehal said Wednesday. “I think we’ve displaced them from the parks, and then they went toward the railway tracks.”

About three months ago, Southern Rail of British Columbia (SRBC) noticed homeless camps along it’s rail line through Newton, particularly from 64 Avenue and 152 Street to 72 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

A large camp was also found by the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

J. Singh Biln, director of community relations for SRBC said it’s of great concern to the railway because people could get hurt.

“It’s really just the last three months that it’s really, really increased significantly,” Biln told The Leader Wednesday.”It’s so dangerous to be near trains.”

He said it’s too frequent that it happens where people throughout the world are injured or killed by trains.

Just last fall, near Old Yale and South Fraser Perimeter Road, there was such a tragedy.

“We had some young people who had been partying up by the (Fraser) river, and they went for a joyride on a train,” Biln said. “And a young lady – 16 years old – lost her arm above the elbow.”

Railway staff are all too aware similar injuries or worse could happen any time.

Biln and Rehal are working together to bring an end to the rail encampments.

Rehal said the challenge is keeping them from going to the train tracks, while not having them in city parks when they are being used by kids.

Rehal said the best of all situations is to find them housing, but he notes some of the people are resistant to offers of permanent shelter.