Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Black Press Media files)

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Black Press Media files)

LETTER: Leadership not doing enough about crime by Langley’s street people

Letter writer said church tries to do good but not equipped to be a homeless shelter

Dear Editor,

Open letter to Township of Langley Council, City of Langley Council, Hon. John Horgan Hon. Mr. Dix and Murrayville neighbours,

My heart is full with the kindness I have seen in our community making sure our disadvantaged communities members have a roof over their head. For over a year now one organization without the consultation of Township housed many homeless folks in the local TravelLodge.

Unfortunately the kindness is not necessarily regarded back to the neighbourhood by all of the individuals being housed. Residents of our Murrayville community began reporting non-stop incidents in this Fraser Highway and 216th Street area.

You could see individuals doing drugs at the bus stop at 216th as you drove by heading to work in the morning.

Businesses in the area were at times inundated by groups hanging out with their bikes and buggies, making it feel unsafe to stop in our own neighbourhood for a coffee or gas.

As a Murrayville resident and member of a couple community Facebook groups, we see daily updates of stolen items and video footage of unwelcome people wandering about properties scoping out places or caught stealing. I remember one day when we had multiple people updating as two individuals wandered down 216th with an alleged stolen bike.

We have had our truck broken into and items taken from our front drive. It’s only a matter of time that something far worse will happen, if we continue to allow this to happen in our neighbourhoods.

Recently our local church at Five Corners (216th Street and 48th Avenue) has become an emergency shelter for extreme weather, and this past week it is now open every night because other housing has ended.

These folks have repaid our neighbourhood with litter, loitering, drug use and now most recently a couple used condoms left on the gravel lot outside the church. I’ve heard that the shelter has an open door and these folks can come and go.

I’ve been involved with emergency shelters in Coquitlam and Port Moody, and this was not how they were operated.

I get this kindness, and I do not hold a grudge against any organization in our community trying to help these folks.

But this is not a solution. This is a bandaid. All you’ve done is bring the issues further down 216th.

Councils, and Mr. Horgan, you and our province need to wake up and do something about this situation. These folks do not need emergency shelter. They need homes. They need mental health and addiction support. If they are prolific offenders then they need to be incarcerated.

Mr. Horgan, everyday that this kind church opens their doors, you need to have individuals from BC Housing, and other relevant agencies there to meet these folks and get them the help that they need.

I understand the humanity behind the church’s need to help and the other organizations as well. However, they are not equipped to help these people. They need more than a roof for 12 hours and a couple meals.

Enough is enough. As much as I understand all this kindness this is not helping these individuals and this is unfair to homeowners and taxpayers to be faced with this in their community every day.

I thought I was done writing my letter to you this morning and then I headed out to go grocery shopping, and found a police car and two officers assisting an unfortunate fellow struggling with his addiction, or illness in front of my neighbour’s house. Again another agency ill-equipped to help these people. If I had children and they saw this scene on our front street this morning my letter would be written in anger instead of frustration and concern.

Do not defund the police. Do fund programs that can help these individuals, and please do this now. We are in a crisis and we need your help.

If this was a family member of mine I would not want local churches and charities to enable my relative with meals and shelter. I would want my family member to get proper help, housing, help for drug addiction and/or mental health care.

Erin Watkins, Murrayville

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• READ MORE: Web poll on homelessness

• READ MORE: Homeless housed in hotels during COVID being put back out on streets

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