Letter: Is homelessness the ‘new norm’ within the City of Langley?

Editor: I am a long-term Langley City resident of the Meadows neighbourhood.

It is evident that our once beloved City is now best known for its casino, thrift stores and homeless camps.

There are many factors that play a role in the increase population of homelessness within our cities and surrounding areas — the economy, mild climate, crime rates, funding and the B.C. Supreme Court ruling pertaining to the homeless and public parks by Chief Justice Hinkson, City of Abbotsford (Fraser Valley), passed by the city.

It initially prohibited sleeping or being in a park overnight without permits or erecting a temporary shelter without permits, but in fact was a violation of their rights, liberty and security.

The question at hand is what about City taxpayers’ rights to our security, safety and freedom to enjoy our public parks and communities?

The passing of BCSC ruling allows sheltering and sleeping in our public spaces and parks between the hours of 7 p.m. and  9 a.m.

As Langley City taxpayers who support public parks, we are providing enjoyment for our families.

It is not meant to provide communal living and free rent to non-tax payers, non-conformists and some non-residents to live there at our expense.

One of the so-called homeless camps along the Nicomekl River and public park south of Fraser Highway and 208 Street, is a block away from the Gateway of Hope Shelter.

This shelter’s policy is non-drug usage as well as  making available many other community resources.

Those who do not desire change, fail to use these resources.

The majority of these homeless campers sleep through the day, violating their 9 a.m. curfew, and hit the streets and our neighbourhoods between midnight and 5 a.m.

During these hours, there appears to be  an influx of shopping carts, bikes and roamers yelling profanities, loud and disruptive noises and, at times, confrontations.

In addition, there are drug usage, drug deals and discarded paraphernalia, vehicles broken into or stolen, theft, graffiti, indecent acts and exposure.

These are offences heard and witnessed also during the daytime.

We have to ask ourselves, is homelessness the “new norm” within our City?

If so, does this not paint a bleak future to our new generation of youth to consider or be exposed to?

Langley City residents and council need to reflect on these issues and strive to make more  positive and structural changes to ensure our City once again is known for its pride, safety and family-oriented community.

Michelle Kilby,

Langley City