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

Delta’s OWL Society to pair raptors and yoga

The two-class fundraiser allows participants to do yoga while being watched by birds of prey

PHOTOS: Tour de White Rock kicks off

Races take place this evening and tomorrow morning

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Community garden to turn barren Deltassist parking lot into a ‘paradise’

Deltassist will use the gardens to increase food security for residents, as well as provide therapy

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

SilverStar officially opens Gondola

The brand-new gondola is now offering scenic rides for visitors on SilverStar Mountain Resort.

VIDEO: Man climbs crane in Abbotsford

Police, fire called to deal with climber last night

VIDEO: Langley City legendary water fight was a soaking good time

And perfectly timed for a hot weather warning

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Most Read