11/18/2013 09:22 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Queen Elizabeth Meadows Park not safe, residents say

Some Surrey residents say the city isn’t doing enough to protect their neighbourhood from drug addicts and homeless people who hide out in a local park’s wooded area.

Bill Smith says Queen Elizabeth Meadows Park has been overtaken by crime, homelessness and drugs.

“I walked through the bushes this morning and in less than five minutes, I found this,” Smith said, holding up a needle.

Smith, who has lived next to the park for 23 years, says the woods make it easy for illicit activity and lewd behaviour.

“If they cleaned everything up to the six feet high mark, there would be no way for people to just disappear like that,” he said.

Amarveer Malhi also lives near the park and says he started worrying about his family’s safety after he caught a man masturbating steps away from his house.

“We found a male sex toy when we were playing cops and robbers with my little cousins,” he said. “I know if we don’t take care of it, it’s going to keep persisting.”

Smith and Malhi say the wooded area should be trimmed so that people can’t hide inside. But the city says it has done everything it can without damaging the urban forest.

“We’ve cleared the area back a bit to eliminate acres of concealment,” said Owen Croy, manager of parks for the City of Surrey.

“We can’t be taking down all of our forests and natural areas because a crime might be committed there.”