By Peter Fassbender
The impact of gang violence is felt across all cities, regions, and unfortunately, across the entire Province. In Surrey, the actions of a few have, all too often – shaken the sense of security of residents. As the MLA for Surrey Fleetwood and Minister of Education I want to assure the residents and students of Surrey that you are not alone.
The government of British Columbia stands with you in making sure we do everything we can to combat this threat. The hard-working, law-abiding citizens of Surrey deserve to live in a safe and secure community.
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.
To date we have taken many steps to guard against this uprising of violence, including:
• Approving and forwarding to the federal government Surrey’s request for 130 more police officers.
• More than $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.
It is very important to be vigilant against the root causes of gang-related activity among youth, and to offer programs that help youth steer clear of, and in some cases escape, violent lifestyles that are associated with criminal and gang activity.
This is why on Tuesday our Government announced that we will provide $270,000 to the Surrey Wraparound Program (Wrap). This program reinforces our comprehensive approach to prevent young people from entering the gang lifestyle.
Wrap was launched in 2009 by the Surrey School District in partnership with the Surrey RCMP and the City. It is designed to help youth at risk of gang involvement by strengthening their ties with school, family, the community and their peers. It is one of Canada’s leading youth gang intervention programs.
The program extends into most facets of a young person’s life; personal, family, school, peer and community; thus “wrapping” the student with a network of support and encouragement.
Wrap currently serves 60 youth, and the $270,000 one-time contribution will support an additional 15 to 20 individuals. The funding will reduce the current waitlist by more than half and improve supports to students and families already in the program.
I am very pleased that the Province can support the Surrey Wrap Project because it is an excellent example of how collaboration between the school district, RCMP and the City of Surrey can have a tremendous impact on children’s lives. Schools play in an important role in a young person life but it takes a community working together to ensure kids not only meet but exceed their potential.
It’s good news. But more can always be done. That is why I am committed to continue to work with our partners, city officials, school district representatives, community leaders, law enforcement, and provincial MLAs to make B.C. communities.