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BC NDP unveil plan to combat Surrey gang violence

Last Updated Mar 20, 2017 at 5:08 pm PDT

BC NDP Leader John Horgan speaks to reporters outside Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – One week after an apparent gang shooting outside a Surrey hotel, NDP leader John Horgan is promising to increase funding to the city’s Wraparound program to $500,000 a year.

The program is a partnership between the Surrey School District, the RCMP and the city which aims to keep kids out of gangs by forging positive relationships with police officers, educators, and other role models.

“We want to make it a secure, stable ongoing program,” Horgan says.

“I believe that everyone has potential and everyone wants to realize that potential, and (if they’re) not given the options to address mental health and addiction issues, (they’re) forced into a gang lifestyle instead of a more productive life.”

Horgan says he was once a troubled teen himself who benefited from community support. He adds 30 kids at risk of gang involvement are now sitting on Wraparound’s wait list instead of getting help.

Doug Elford with the Surrey Newton Community Association is welcoming today’s promise from the NDP, saying the Wrap Around program definitely needs more funding.

“It is effective,” he says. “I think it has to reach out even farther than it does now. We’re hearing about elementary children being recruited and that is a real concern of ours as well. They need more bodies. They need more staff.”

He adds too many kids are still waiting for help.

“There’s a lot of children that slip through the cracks and we’ve got to capture these children before they move on to a life of crime and potentially risking their lives.”

Elford adds in the wake of last week’s latest fatal shooting, public safety remains a major concern for most residents of Surrey.

29-year-old Birinderjeet Justin Bhangu was shot to death in broad daylight in the parking lot of a Comfort Inn. Police believe the shooting was targeted.

Horgan says while it’s frightening that innocent lives were put at risk, he also has sympathy for the family of the man who was killed.