Homeless in industrial parks

While enforcing truck parking restrictions, individuals found sleeping in vehicles

Homeless individuals sleeping in in cars, campers and other vehicles are using Delta's industrial areas as a safe place to camp out for the night.

That's what was uncovered during recent municipal bylaw sweeps of the industrial zones.

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After Delta amended its bylaws this year to restrict commercial vehicle parking overnight on any highway, a regulation consistent with adjacent cities, bylaw inspectors have been checking Annacis Island and the Tilbury Industrial Park for commercial trucks being parked on the streets. Truck owners from around the region had been driving their cars to the areas and parking there during the day while they drove their big rigs for work, then would park their trucks there at night. It was a growing complaint for business owners.

A staff report to Delta council notes after warnings and enforcement actions were taken, there's now few, if any, commercial vehicles parking on the street overnight in both areas.

However, the report also noted while conducting parking enforcement at night, bylaws staff encountered a number of homeless individuals sleeping in campers and vans at roadside.

"These concerns were passed on to Delta police for their information," the report notes.

Bylaws manager Hugh Davies told the Optimist overnight camping on the street was already prohibited under Delta's bylaws.

He also noted you'll find homeless people in any given industrial area.

"It's all over the Lower Mainland," Davies said. "If you're living in your car, where are you going to park? You're not going to park in a residential street necessarily because the residents will look out and ask what that person is doing there, so there's a tendency to gravitate to industrial areas and park your vehicles there where you would feel safe."

Davies, who was a member of the Delta Police Department for 30 years before joining the Corporation of Delta, said they would usually only enforce the bylaw in more "extreme circumstances."

Two years ago, volunteers throughout Delta conducted a homeless count, revealing a hidden population of people who are couch surfing or sleeping in their cars.

Kay Dennison, a member of the Delta Seniors Planning Team, at the time said the count confirmed there are homeless people in both North Delta and South Delta, as well as an increase in seniors who are homeless.

The count was part of a Metro Vancouver count conducted every three years to provide a snapshot of the homeless.

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