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Halifax to consider funding gun violence prevention program

CeaseFire, a violence prevention program that has been operating in the black communities of the municipality, will run out of federal funding at the end of 2017.

CeaseFire will run out of federal funding at the end of 2017

In the 42 months it has been operating, 11 Ceasefire workers have helped 120 people. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Halifax will consider helping fund a violence prevention program once federal funding runs out at the end of December.

Halifax's Board of Police Commissioners has asked the municipality for a report on sharing the cost of CeaseFire, a non-profit that aims to eliminate violence, particularly gun violence.

CeaseFire has been operating in the black communities of the municipality, including North Preston, East Preston, North Dartmouth, Mulgrave Park and Uniacke Square, for the past 3½ years using federal and provincial funding.

In that time, 11 CeaseFire workers have helped 120 people and the overall number of gun-related incidents has fallen.

"I believe that our program has made a significant contribution to those decreases," said Mel Lucas, the project manager of CeaseFire.

Ceasefire Halifax works with high-risk youth in Mulgrave Park, Uniacke Square, North Preston and North Dartmouth. (Submitted by Ceasefire Halifax)

Lucas told the board that workers have tracked down the friends of gunshot victims and convinced them not to retaliate.

The province has stepped in with some money to keep CeaseFire going until March 31, 2018. But provincial officials don't want to be the sole support for a long-term program.

3 options considered

The Community Justice Society, which administers CeaseFire, proposed three options for a three-year project.

The first one is $2.2 million for the same program that's been operating.

The second proposal would expand to include young women and white people who are at risk, which would cost $2.6 million.

The final version would include transition programs for people leaving the correctional system and going back into the community and would cost $3.4 million.

2018 budget debate

Marcel Tellier, the executive director of the Community Justice Society, said he's hoping the municipality will share the costs of the program with the province. He told members of the board of police commissioners there is "no hard or fast" formula yet.

Commissioner Carole McDougall said the request for funding should be considered with Halifax's new public safety strategy in mind.

The board agreed to have staff study the issue but, because of the time pressure, asked for the report to go directly to Halifax regional council for the 2018 budget debate.

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca