Tents in Langley park spark concern

A homeless camp has been growing in Nicomekl Park.

Sharon (not her real name), one of the homeless people camped out in Langley City’s Nicomekl Park, hasn’t always lived on the streets.

The woman in her late 50s is one of a number of Langley’s homeless who have moved into the park during the last month and a half.

Over the past 12 years, she has battled a major addiction, been in and out of apartments, and is now facing a leukemia diagnosis.

“I need a place to live,” she said.

She’s currently living under tarps and tents strung up near the parking lot and paths that run through the floodplain.

Though she’s lived in rental places in the past, right now she said she’s given up looking. She hates rejection, and it’s hard to find anything she and her partner of seven years can live in.

The site, like several before it, has been drawing more attention in recent weeks.

“The camp is getting larger,” said Sharon Newbery, a City resident and former member of the public safety committee.

Langley’s homeless population has moved several times during the past year and a half. For a time it was concentrated in a few spots in the downtown near Fraser Highway.

“I can see that it’s going to get out of control if things aren’t done soon,” Newbery said. “Something needs to be done to help these people, and moving them from spot to spot isn’t a solution.”

The park is closer to the eastern outskirts of the City, but still close to roads, apartments, and pathways.

Newbery knows that finding permanent housing for homeless will not be easy with the current housing market.

So do homelessness outreach workers like Fraser Holland of Starting Point.

The piece that isn’t in the City’s current homelessness plan is a form of immediate housing, Holland said.

While the problem is complex, there are some homeless who, once housed, stay that way.

The City’s long term goal is to provide more supportive housing.Supportive housing is a step between something like a shelter and a solo rental. Supportive housing has staff on site and helps people kicking drug addiction or getting help for mental health problems.

“It’s not a simple solution,” said City administrator Francis Cheung. “It’s so complex.”

The City would have to work with other jurisdictions, including the provincial government, to get supportive housing in place.

In the meantime, the City asks the homeless sleeping in parks to move along during the day.

Court rulings in B.C. have found that people without a home have a right to sleep in public parks. But municipal governments have a right to order them to move along and clear away their campsites during the daytime.

“We have tried to comply with that ruling,” said Cheung.

Both homeless and housed residents have rights, said Cheung.

“It’s a very difficult balancing act to meet,” he said.

Bylaw officers are asking people to move their tents by 9 a.m.

“We don’t always get compliance,” Cheung said.

The City is also trying to clear away some of the extra material and debris.

As for Sharon in the camp, she isn’t getting treatment for her leukemia until she gets a roof over her head.

“You can’t get chemo if you can’t find a place to live,” she said.


Just Posted

Langley’s supportive housing dubbed Creek Stone Place

The project is set to open this spring to house 49 homeless people.

Nominations open for Langley-Aldergrove Conservative race

Longtime MP Mark Warawa is stepping down at the Conservative candidate.

Langley developer’s appeal of extradition denied – faces fraud charge

The Court of Appeal has denied Mark Chandler’s attempt to avoid extradition to California.

VIDEO: Mark Warawa shows off Aldergrove’s Telephone Museum

The Langley–Aldergrove MP visited the 100-year-old museum and talked phones with AGHS president.

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Chilliwack grad says modest dress codes don’t protect girls from assault

Sardis alumni was ‘catcalled, harassed, and groped by my male classmates’ despite modest clothing

One of the biggest cow shows in Canada is coming back to the ‘Wack

Prize money of $240,000 is on offer at the spring Holstein show Friday at Chilliwack Heritage Park

‘Considerably large’ tractor tire fell and killed 3-year-old girl on B.C. farm

Delta’s deputy fire chief said crews tried to helicopter girl out after a tractor tire leaning against a barn fell onto her

VIDEO: Race and sport examined at new We Are Hockey exhibit in Abbotsford

UFV SASI hosting exhibit looking at hockey history and race

Nearly 40% of British Columbians not taking their medications correctly: poll

Introduction of legal cannabis could cause more issues for drug interactions

Mining company fined $70,000 after two workers killed in B.C. truck crash

Broda Construction pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe workplace at Cranbrook rock quarry

B.C. argues it cannot stop Trans Mountain, but it can protect environment

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says only Ottawa has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines

Most Read