OP-ED – Gun violence, people in Surrey are in the middle of a public safety crisis.

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John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader, BC New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader, BC New Democrats

By John Horgan, New Democrat leader

Daily shootings. Kids terrified by gunshots near school grounds. People afraid to leave home after dark. Brazen daylight attacks.

This is what people in Surrey were living with this week.

For people living there, it’s terrifying. For any elected representative in this province, it should be completely unacceptable. I know that’s how I see it.

But as gun violence escalated in the city and the number of shootings rose to 32 in just over three months, members of the Christy Clark government continued to shrug their shoulders and refuse to take effective action to end the violence.

When New Democrats raised the issue in the legislature, demanding action from the government, the minister responsible for public safety shifted the blame onto the families of those involved and rehashed the same tired talking points about what his government has done in the past.

Well, those so-called solutions haven’t worked.

As I write this, Surrey has experienced 32 shootings so far this year. But by the time this article is printed, a few days from now, it could well be 34 or 35 – that’s how prolific the violence has been. In fact, at the very moment the solicitor general was responding to questions about violence in Surrey in the legislature, police in Surrey were responding to another shooting – this one a brazen attack in the middle of the afternoon.

Last year, Surrey experienced 60 shootings, or an average of one every week. This year, if we continue on the path we’re on, Surrey will experience more than double the number of shootings, or two every week.

People in Surrey are terrified. Last weekend, one shooting happened at 8 p.m., near a schoolground where children were playing. The children were terrified, and I can only imagine the fear their parents must feel. No parent should ever have to wonder whether their child will encounter gun violence when they’re playing in their neighbourhood. And no child should ever be scared to go to the local school ground to play.

It’s not good enough for the Christy Clark government to claim they’re taking this seriously. The time for promises has passed. Now is the time to take action.

Even the premier herself admitted in the legislature that her government hasn’t done enough, and promised to do more. But people in Surrey remain in the dark about what exactly the government plans to do and when they’re going to do it.

We need to reassess the strategies that are currently in place and immediately bring all levels of government to the table as proposed in our plan, the Surrey Accord. Parent groups and community leaders should also have a seat at the table and adequate resources need to be allocated to this.

The Christy Clark government has stood by and watched this situation escalate for too long. The measures they have taken have not been effective – listing those measures over and over again will not make them any more so.

Today, what the people of Surrey need to see is that their provincial government is doing everything it can to stop this violence and keep them and their families safe.

People in Surrey are in the middle of a crisis of public safety. Christy Clark’s government has shown they just aren’t there for them.