Community Safety Village piques Surrey’s interest

One- to five-acre area for learning safety skills would cost about $1.5M

Surrey's police committee is looking to set up a Community Safety Village here in Surrey.

SURREY — Surrey’s police chief and city council want to set up  a Community Safety Village here as a tool to teach public safety skills to young and old alike.

Surrey’s Public Safety Committee decided Monday to send a delegation to see such programs in action in Waterloo, York and Calgary. After this, said Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, a “more fulsome strategy” for Surrey will be prepared.

What is a safety village? Typically occupying one to five acres of land, they feature child-size buildings and cars, bikes, roadways, sidewalks, traffic lights, crosswalk signals, railway crossings and classrooms with mock safety hazards one might find in their own home. Basically, it provides a safe place for children and adults to learn and practice safety skills.

So far there are 14 safety villages in Canada — nine in Ontario, four in Alberta and one in B.C.

“This initiative means creating a venue to consolidate, institutionalize, and scale safety training programs in the city starting with those around road and fire safety,” Fordy explained.

Beside this, he added, “there could be significant value in considering the typical scope of training programs to cover issues like drugs, domestic violence and bullying.”

Fordy said opening a safety village here would present an opportunity to “intervene at the earliest possible level and potentially change the trajectory of young people’s lives.”

Surrey’s village would likely be located close to the detachment, but potential sites have not yet been selected.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is warm to the idea. “I really like the concept, and I found it particularly interesting when we’re going to get an influx of refugees,” she said. “It is also an opportunity for teaching down the road.”

Fordy noted that these villages usually cater to elementary school pupils but added that  the general public, “especially subgroups like newcomers to Canada who can benefit from an interactive orientation on police, fire and emergency services in the city.”

The safety training curriculum would only be delivered by uniformed personnel from police, fire and emergency services and the village would require about $1.5 million to set up.

“The amount of time that others have taken for planning, fundraising and building of a safety village has ranged from two to five years,” Fordy noted.

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