The federal government has earmarked $7.5 million for the Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment program, also known as SAFE.
The SAFE program, developed out of the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention and funded under the National Crime Prevention Strategy, provides at-risk youth with wholesome alternatives in an effort to steer them away from joining gangs and getting involved in drugs.
It’s expected as many as 4,730 teenagers in Surrey will benefit from it.
Bill Blair, minister of border security and organized crime reduction, noted SAFE was developed “specifically for Surrey in response to the urgent need for a coordinated approach to address gang violence and to disrupt the pathways young people take toward joining gangs and the gang lifestyle.
“We are making investments in at-risk young people to help them make better, smarter and safer choices,” he said.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said the funding “will go to tackle a key element in reducing gangs.”
According to a federal government press release, youth crime in Surrey in 2016-17 increased by 34 per cent, “with a spike” in offenders ages 15 to 17.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, noted that the $7.5 million will be provided over the next five years to 10 community organizations.
“The Surrey Board of Trade, through our Social Policy Team and Youth Entrepreneurship Team, will work closely with those organizations indicated today to receive funding, such as Options, DIVERSEcity, Pacific Community Resources Society, PICS, Solid State, Surrey Schools, SFU and KPU,” she said.