British Columbia·Video

Gang violence in Surrey: Christy Clark announces money for Wrap Project for at-risk youth

Amid an ongoing gang turf war, B.C. Premier Christy Clark has announced more money for the Wrap Project, which helps at-risk youth stay out of gangs.

Province has been criticised for not doing enough while gangs wage a turf war in Surrey and Delta

B.C. Premier Christy Clark hugs Jessy Sahota during a news conference in Surrey. Sahota, a graduate of the Surrey Wrap Project, spoke in support of more provincial money for the program. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has announced more money to the RCMP's Wrap Program, which helps at-risk youth who exhibit signs of gang-associated behaviour.

The money, a one-time contribution of $270,000, would cut the waiting list in half for youth referred to the program, said Clark.

Clark made the announcement at Surrey City Hall Tuesday afternoon, following calls for the province to take action on the ongoing gang turf war that has killed one man.

"Our goal is a violence-free BC. And that means making sure that young people aren't going into gangs," said Clark.

Community members and a former NDP cabinet minister have called for action from officials after six weeks that saw 22 shootings and the homicide of Arun Bains, nephew of NDP MLA Harry Bains.

Bains returned to the B.C. legislature on Tuesday morning, for the first time since his nephew was killed.

He said the province hasn't put enough money toward prevention of young people joining gangs, and implored politicians to set aside political differences on the issue.

'If it wasn't for this program, I wouldn't be standing here'

The Surrey Wraparound (Wrap) program, started in 2009 to help kids as young as 11 who have been identified through schools or police as at-risk for gang involvement.

One of the program's current staff members spoke at the premier's announcement, about how the police officers involved in the program saved him from gang life 10 years ago.

"When I was 12 years old, I was asked to leave my elementary school because I was attracted to the gang lifestyle," said Jessy Sahota, now 22.

Thanks to the officers' intervention, Sahota said, he was able to finish high school, become a champion heavy-weight wrestler, and graduate from Simon Fraser University.

"If it wasn't for this program, I wouldn't be standing here," said Sahota, who now works with youth in the district.

Delta police deploy tower cameras

Meanwhile, police in Delta, B.C. today announced they will use new cameras as a crime deterrent in response to gun violence spreading across communities south of the Fraser River.

They have deployed a trailer with cameras mounted on a 30-foot tower. Its location will move, but it will start at 80 Avenue and 120 Street, said police in a release.

The cameras will be in operation around the clock, and only police will have access to the footage following an incident.

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