More action to end gang violence: B.C. commits new funding to Surrey youth program

imageSURREY – The B.C. government’s comprehensive approach to crime received a boost today, including a significant contribution to the successful Surrey Wraparound Program (Wrap), which reduces gang-related activity among youth.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement after meeting with Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner at City Hall.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own neighbourhoods and the people of Surrey need to know the Government of British Columbia stands with you,” said Premier Clark. “We’re ready to work with you, and we won’t stop until we put an end to gang violence.”

About $60 million a year is provided to the RCMP in B.C. for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC) and anti-gang initiatives. While more work is needed, today’s announcement builds on a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach – tough on crime, vigilant against its root causes – to combating gang violence in Surrey, which has seen a decline in violent crime over the past 10 years. The many efforts include:

  • Approving and forwarding to the federal government Surrey’s request for 130 more police officers.
  • Over $318,000 in grants this year alone directed to local crime prevention and anti-violence programs in Surrey through the provincial government’s Civil Forfeiture Office.
  • Establishing the Surrey Criminal Justice Task Force with the City of Surrey to develop an integrated network of social, health and justice     service providers.

Wrap currently serves 60 youth and the new, $270,000 one-time contribution will support an additional 15 to 20 individuals. The funding will reduce the current waitlist by half and improve supports to students and families already in the program.

“We all have an important role in the well-being of our students. Students who are supported at home, in schools and in their community have a stronger foundation to succeed in life than those who don’t,” said Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

“Our board is proud of district staff that conceived and developed the Surrey Wrap Program and, along with our partners, we celebrate the program’s great positive impact on the lives of hundreds of students and families in our community over the last six years,” said Shawn Wilson, chair of the Surrey Board of Education. “Trustees are grateful for the generous contribution from the Province to support vulnerable students in our community.”

“This is a significant investment in the future of our community,” said Bill Fordy, C/Supt. Surrey RCMP officer in charge. “With one third of our population under the age of 19, youth are a top priority for the Surrey RCMP. It is crucial that we work together to deliver the support and attention at-risk youth need to help them stay out of gangs and the criminal lifestyle. We repeatedly see enormous benefits from fostering positive interactions with police and their community.”

Speaking with city officials, school district representatives, community leaders, law enforcement, and provincial MLAs, Premier Clark confirmed her commitment to work closely with all partners, including the federal government.

“I am committed to ensuring the youth in our community have the programs and resources to help them make the right choices in life,” said Hepner. “The funding provided today by the Province means more at-risk youth will have timely access to the acclaimed Wrap Program where they will receive the support and guidance they need.”

Today’s actions, combined with the dedicated work of the provincial anti-gang CFSEU-BC, represent the Province’s multi-pronged approach to helping end gang violence and keep Surrey safe for its residents.