Surrey crime prevention group stunned as city cuts funding

Click to play video: 'Surrey volunteer crime prevention group loses city funding'
Surrey volunteer crime prevention group loses city funding
A volunteer crime prevention group in Surrey says its funding has been suspended this year, and hopes it's not because of the ongoing dispute over the future of policing in the city. Alissa Thibault reports – Apr 23, 2024

A Surrey, B.C., crime prevention group hopes it hasn’t become a victim of the fight over the city’s policing.

The non-profit Surrey Crime Prevention Society (SCPS) runs community safety patrols, graffiti cleanup and speed watches. It says its funding has been suspended by the city this year, to the tune of $330,000.

“We didn’t have any clue that this was happening,” the society’s volunteer president Mani Fallon said, adding she learned of the funding issue through a text message. “To find out through community members that this was even on the table was quite the shock to us.”

She says funding ran out Dec. 31, 2023, so the organization has been running for a full fiscal quarter without knowing about the cut.

The organization supports upwards of 500 volunteers between the ages of 15 and 29 and was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

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The society doesn’t know exactly why, but hopes it’s not political fallout from the ongoing dispute between supporters of the Surrey RCMP and the Surrey Police Service.

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“It would be a disgrace to the many youth that volunteer in this organization, I’m not sure why they would be the casualty in this,” Fallon said.

At Monday night’s meeting, Surrey council narrowly approved a seven per cent tax increase in a 5-4 vote. That’s in addition to a 3.5 per cent increase in utilities fees passed a few weeks ago.

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In a statement, the mayor said the city has kept costs as low as it could. But cuts to crime prevention organizations are raising eyebrows.

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“I’m absolutely shocked and quite frankly, extremely disappointed,” said Coun. Linda Annis, who voted against the budget. “I just hope it’s not a political decision, I hope it’s about, I don’t know what because we’re all about public safety,” she said.

Annis says funding has also been suspended for Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers and the Lookout Society.

“It puts us in a predicament we’re going to certainly have to reevaluate. And, we’ll be meeting with the board later this week to look at what we’re going to have to do,” Fallon said, adding she is concerned what this will mean for their youth volunteers.

The SCPS celebrates its 40th anniversary next month and Fallon says they’re hoping donations can make up the funding shortfall.

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