British Columbia

Fighting gang violence in Surrey: A look at politicians' promises

For decades, politicians have promised to make Surrey safer, but have elected officials followed through with their plans?

CBC News looks at whether elected officials have followed through with plans to fight gang violence

Gang violence in Surrey has been an issue for decades. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Calls for government action on gun and gang violence have been renewed after the shooting deaths of three people in Surrey this month.

Thousands of people gathered outside Surrey City Hall earlier this month to rally against gang violence after two teenagers were killed in a targeted shooting in the Campbell Heights neighbourhood. And then, about 10 days after the rally, a father, nurse and hockey coach was gunned down outside his home. 

In light of the recent violence, CBC News looked at the various promises and announcements made by elected officials regarding gangs and gun violence and checked to see where they are at. 

Organizers estimated that 3,000 people attended the "Wake Up" rally against gang violence in Surrey on June 14. (Meera Bains/CBC)

Federal government

In the fall of 2017, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale announced the federal government would pour millions of dollars into anti-gang initiatives.

"I'm announcing $327.6 million in federal funding over the coming five years, and $100 million annually thereafter," Goodale said on November 17, 2017 at a news conference in Surrey.

But that money hasn't been paid out yet.  

"We'll roll out later on this year and into the beginning of next year. The point here is to try assist provinces, cities, and local police forces. They have the lead responsibility for community safety, but the government of Canada wants to back them up," Goodale said Tuesday during a news conference in Regina.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale held a news conference in Surrey in 2017 to announce the federal government's anti-gang initiative. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Bill C-71 is another way the federal government says it's going to combat gang violence. The new gun control bill is in its second reading. 

If approved, it would expanded background checks, require businesses to keep records of sales, and bring in new rules for transporting restricted firearms.

The federal government also announced the National Crime Prevention Strategy Program, which allows programs to apply for funding for initiatives that keep young people out of gangs.

The City of Surrey is in the process of applying for that program. The deadline is July 31. 

Provincial government

In October of 2017, the newly-elected NDP government committed $500,000 annually to Surrey's Wrap program, which aims to keep at-risk youth out of gangs. 

While the program has largely been successful, it's always had a wait list. 

To date, the funding hasn't been paid out yet. 

"The ministry is currently working with the Surrey Wrap program to finalize the annual funding contract before payments are disbursed," said a statement from the office of the Ministry of Public Safety. 

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Premier John Horgan work out with students at Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey, following an anti-gang funding announcement in 2017. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

NDP MLA Harry Bains' 22-year-old nephew, Arun Bains was shot to death in his car in April of 2015. He is the first to admit there is more his government needs to do.

"A lot more needs to be done. I think that is recognized, because so far, it hasn't worked. There are young people who are involved in gangs. They're getting killed. Many innocents are being killed and shot at, I think it's not acceptable to us, not acceptable to our society, not acceptable to those parents."

Municipal government

When Mayor Linda Hepner ran for office, she campaigned on the promise to get 147 more RCMP officers

Surrey received 100 more officers throughout the 2015/2016 fiscal year. Currently, it has 128 additional RCMP officers. 

However, Simon Fraser University criminology professor Curt Taylor Griffiths believes the city needs 400 more officers.

During a new conference on June 21, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said in the last three years more police officers have been added than ever before. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

During a news conference earlier this month, Hepner addressed criticism that the city is under-served by police. 

"I want to first remind everyone that in the history of Surrey, we have added more police officers in the last three years than anyone has ever added. Could we use more? I think every police force in the country will tell you they could always use more."

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