The federal government is attempting to tackle gun violence head-on in Fraser Valley communities as they announced on Thursday that up to $4.7 million will be distributed to various cities throughout the region, including Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, and Mission.
This money comes from the new $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund (BCSF), which was first introduced last March, and is designed to support local programs that target gun and gang violence prevention, especially among younger people.
Pam Damoff, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, announced on March 16 that this new funding would be designated for at-risk youth programs, but it was up to the municipal governments to decide exactly how to spend it.
“The government stands firm in its conviction that any solution to gun and gang violence must include prevention and intervention efforts,” said Damoff.
“I look forward to hearing about how these funds will be used to support young people to divert them from a life of crime.”
She also said that the funding will be split amongst the communities, with Maple Ridge receiving $1.8 million, Abbotsford receiving $1.96 million, and Mission receiving $890,000.
“The new fund uses data and evidence, including population and crime stats, to determine where and how much should be allocated,” explained Damoff.
“This funding that we’re announcing today does not need to be matched by the municipalities, which I know is something that they quite like. It allows them to determine what projects are best for their communities.”
When asked whether or not the City of Maple Ridge was looking at matching the funding, Mayor Dan Ruimy explained that there have been a lot of ongoing discussions about what the money would be used for and passed the question along to Ridge Meadows RCMP Supt. Wendy Mehat.
“What we really hope to do as the RCMP is to do some research, meet with all of our community partners, and have a working group to work with us to actually build education and prevention programming,” said Mehat.
“One of the preliminary discussions we are having is to build a family, youth, and resource support team.”
While specifics have yet to be determined, Mayor Ruimy said that this funding will go a long way in making a difference in local gang issues involving youth.
“The funding will address our work on youth gun and gang violence by gathering community feedback that will inform prevention, intervention programs and resources for youth, their families and supporting organizations as we work together in building resiliency and safer neighbourhoods,” said Ruimy.
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