Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner in a file photo.

Surrey mayor asks feds for $10M to combat gang problems

Ask comes after a task force aimed at preventing gang violence issued a report

The mayor of Surrey says she will ask the federal government for $10 million in funding for anti-gang programs in British Columbia’s fastest-growing city, where people are dealing with “emotional upheaval” after recent acts of gun violence.

Linda Hepner said Tuesday the money would be spent over five years after a task force aimed at preventing gang violence issued a report with six recommendations, including an expanded gang exit and outreach program that has been led by a combined police and border services unit for about 18 months in the province.

“We first piloted it and it’s the only one in the country that I know of,” Hepner said.

“In less than two years, it’s actually worked with more than 100 people that are in gangs. They’ve actually now got a chance to be part of a gang free future but that is in jeopardy because we need funding for that.”

Hepner said “dozens” of people have left gangs because of the program, which the province has committed to funding until the end of the year.

Surrey residents have held anti-violence rallies calling for action, including more RCMP officers, after two teenage boys were recently found shot to death on a rural road and a father and hockey coach was gunned down outside a home.

The task force, which Hepner led after launching it last October, also recommended more police enforcement and the launch of an initiative that would allow nightclubs and other businesses to ban alleged gangsters.

The expansion of early intervention programs to deter children from entering the gang lifestyle was among the recommendations, and Hepner said some kids lured into gangs are as young as 10 and come from a range of backgrounds.

“The profile is so different in British Columbia than anywhere else in North America,” she said. “They could be affluent, they could be poor, they could be middle income. They run the gamut here.”

Hepner said youths are joining gangs for difference reasons.

“Generally, those that are more affluent are out for glory and glamour,” she said. “The ones that are in more vulnerable economic circumstances have often been subject to trauma. Lots of them are subject to seeing domestic abuse, some of them not feeling that they fit in culturally and don’t feel part of the community.”

Other recommendations include the development of strategies to help at-risk children and their families, as well as stronger neighbourhood-based and culturally appropriate programs.

The mayor is also calling for more funding from the provincial government.

The Public Safety Ministry announced $1.12 million in funding Tuesday to expand an anti-bullying program based in schools called Expect Respect and a Safe Education, or ERASE, in communities across the province where gang-affiliated behaviours have been identified. It said the strategy is designed to prevent, identify and stop harmful behaviours, whether they occur in school or online.

The task force in Surrey included citizens, people from the business community, police and a local member of Parliament. It said RCMP statistics suggest gang members involved in conflicts between 2014 and 2016 were age 23 on average and had committed their first criminal offence at the average age of 16.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Meet the Ladysmith ambassador candidates

Seven enrolled in this year’s leadership program

Dump truck driver hurt after highway crash in Ladysmith

One man airlifted to hospital after collision between dump truck and pickup truck Friday

Ladysmith reservoirs full despite winter drought

Both reservoirs at or above capacity

Rickter Scale: Goodbye in the blink of an eye

Funny the impact a text can have — in more ways than one

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read