When growing pains become intolerable, the community needs to act.

This… is my Surrey.

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Beautiful, yes? We have beaches and sunsets to take your breathe away, parks and trails, farms that grow incredible local produce and fruits and fields of daisies to lay down and dream in.

“Communities in fear” 

And with summer upon us and school out the end of next week, thousands of families will be out enjoying all of it. Summer is the time to stay up late, play in front of your house, walk to the local Dairy Queen to get a chocolate-dipped cone. Lay on your front lawn in a pup tent and pretend to ‘camp out’.

Except talking to some local parents this morning still reeling from the two shootings that took place in Sullivan and Cloverdale last weekend, letting their kids play outside in the evening is the last thing they are going to be doing.

“Jaspal said she heard three to four shots at around 10:15 p.m. At first, she dismissed the loud pops as fireworks, then she heard sirens and saw police cruisers swarm the roadway, and yellow tape go up.

“I had just come home from work. If I came home a bit later, I could’ve been outside,” she said.

Another neighbour heard the gunshots but also thought they were fireworks until she saw police officers using a flashlight to examine the houses on the street, and cars parked in driveways, for stray bullets.

Two residences were struck by bullets, said police. No one was hurt. One bullet struck a garage door, while Jaspal’s home had what appeared to be bullet holes on the side of the house.

Maha Elias was rattled by the incident and said she plans to talk to her husband about moving elsewhere. They had moved from Victoria to Surrey in what Elias said “supposedly was a good neighbourhood.”

Now, she is worried and is telling her daughter to stay away from the windows as a precaution.”


“The Highway 10 shooting occurred just a day after another targeted drive-by shooting in the 5700-block 152nd Street on Friday night that left two men injured.

The men were sitting outside their home when more than 30 rounds were fired at the house, one bullet grazing one man in the head and another hitting the other man in the foot, said a relative. A dark-coloured sedan was seen fleeing the scene.”

No one should ever have to tell a child not to go by the windows because they are worried about getting shot. Yet in both cases,families with children lived in close proximity to the events that unfolded and it’s a miracle no one was hurt. It’s been the same in many of the over 30 shootings that have happened this spring, such as the case where a young girl bravely grabbed a younger playmate and took her to safety as shots rang outside on the street.

This is not how it should be, this is not right, and yet it continues as fear mounts now that bullets are hitting homes of innocent people. Yes, violence can happen anywhere. We know this. But to negate the ridiculous number of shootings that are occurring here sometimes on a nightly basis by saying that is to stick your head in the sand!

We all want a better city, a safe city where kids can feel safe to camp on the lawn on hot summer nights, but that just isn’t going to happen right now until the people behind this violence are stopped. And that omerta code of silence among friends,families and victims is why it doesn’t.
A parent’s desire to protect a child they know is involved in this lifestyle, does not trump a communities right to live in safety and without fear.

” Crime knows no cultural or racial barrier “

There’s something else that needs to be said here. There is a growing sentiment in our city that is alarming for its naivete. Many are now blaming every bit of violence and crime in the city on what law enforcement referred to as a low-level turf war between South Asian and Somali dial a dope operations.

Let me remind you that to date, it has been reported that just over half of the 30 thirty shootings have been connected to that ongoing dispute. So who is behind all the rest? Blaming all the issues in Surrey on South Asian/Somali youths doesn’t cut it. You want a reality check? Go sit in the Surrey Court house for even one day and look at the court lists of people attending criminal court.

Drug running, drug production, drug purchasing and all the trickle down crime that results, knows no racial or cultural barriers in our city. There may be cultural issues that must be acknowledged and addressed in dealing with aspects of it differently, but there is no barrier to where it begins and ends.

 “Growing pains” 

As Surrey’s population continues to grow, the cracks and holes in the required social infrastructure are starting to show, and requires city leaders that aggressively advocate for more funding from provincial and federal governments. This has now become more something more than growing pains.

As secondary suites continue to provide lower cost housing, we will continue to attract low and middle income families,some of whom will require social supports – it has been acknowledged we do not have enough to meet the need. As population grows, so do our policing needs- people forget police don’t just deal with gang issues, but a variety of calls that come non-stop. We do not have enough and as new officers arrive they are gobbled up by those lost to retirement, transfers, sick leave etc.

And most importantly, prevention.The money invested in prevention,in keeping kids from heading in this direction, will save money on policing,court costs,social services etc down the road. There should be no wait-list for kids at risk on the WRAP program-those kids need to be reached today, not next year!The mayors council just spent millions on trying to get a yes vote in the transit referendum and you are trying to tell me our city can’t find the money to get those kids on the waitlist help?  Parents need resources to access when they need help,or suspect their child may be heading down the wrong path.

 “But what can I do?” 

As someone who’s written of our issues often,I’ve heard from many in Surrey over the last three days,good people concerned about what is going on, and who are looking for guidance and reassurance. And this is what I have to say:

This is not a time for the community to become divided in fear or by ignorance. If ever there was a time for our city to unite, it is now. Those 80 new RCMP are not coming soon enough. We need to build bridges with each other and with our city leaders and law enforcement.We need to continue to actively and assertively lobby the province and the federal government for more resources.

If you are a parent concerned or scared about what your child may be involved with, here are some resources for you. Please,reach out and make that call: http://surrey.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=1510&languageId=1&contentId=6366

If you are a landlord,ensure you are doing the proper checks before renting – simply accepting cash with no background could lead you down a world of pain and put your family at risk. http://bclandlords.ca/

If you know something, anything – no matter how insignificant it seems- about any of these shootings, please call RCMP, CrimeStoppers or the gang tip line: http://surrey.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=97&languageId=1&contentId=25672

Surrey is full of amazing people. There are incredible change-makers in our community who have stepped up to and families who want to make a future here. There is too much on the line, and we need to do this together.

Because it is no longer enough to sit on the sidelines, shake your head and grimace at the news. Our city depends on it. 

But I thought we are all safe, Chief Supt. Bill Fordy?

In January of this year, I wrote a post highlighting the ridiculous, public relations driven position Bill Fordy had taken with regards to yet another shooting in Surrey.

While other police spokespersons in the lower mainland were making clear the inherent danger the public faces in any brazen shooting, Fordy was telling the people of Surrey they were all safe.

 “Residents are safe, he said, because “the overwhelming majority of (Surrey) residents are law-abiding citizens with no involvement with criminal activity”

My, what a difference a few months and a total of 12 murders in the city  makes.

Or is it, simply that this latest brazen shooting happened in the middle of Morgan Creeks tony shopping district where many of the cities well-heeled residents like to hang out at “urban” suburban places like U Lounge and shop in store outlets also found in Vancouver on Robson ?

Today after telling residents for months we have nothing to worry about, because these incidents in Surrey are targeted hits, for some reason, Bill Fordy thought the brazen shootings in South Surrey were:


“Let me speak very clearly. What happened last evening is not acceptable. The  fact that somebody would sneak up on another man in a public venue… in the  presence of children, men and women that are going about their business and  enjoying their evening is disgusting,” he said.  “The impact of this brutal  event extends beyond that of the victim who also has a family and people who  love him. It impacts on every man and woman who lives in our society and enjoys  the fundamental rights and freedoms of our country.”

Fordy said he has deployed his officers to gang hangouts around the city to  let those involved in organized crime know they are not welcome in Surrey, where  11 people have been murdered so far in 2013.

“I am also asking owners and managers of businesses that these persons  frequent to stand beside us and deliver a very clear message to people that  attend these restaurants, bars and gyms. And that message is simply this: you  are not welcome here and we do not want your dirty money,” Fordy said.

“Simply put, we’ve had enough. It is time for us as a society to stand  together and to stop this violence. This is in part a policing problem. But in  its totality, it is a community problem.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/shot+dead+Morgan+Crossing+shopping+centre+identified/8291096/story.html#ixzz2RXbACXwU

No kidding. But let me share something with you. Brazen shootings,stabbings and murders are always disgusting Supt. Fordy. Always. Not just because this happened in South Surrey, they are disgusting when they happen in Whalley, or Newton, or Fleetwood or anywhere where local residents who are out and about or in their homes, are also impacted by the crime. Like the Surrey 6 murders.

Reality check.

Please tell me what is going on in that new million dollar bunker just built in Surrey, that the RCMP can’t get a handle on the number of guns on the streets here, coming across our borders.

That the  RCMP have not been able to effectively make an impact on the gang issues.

That the RCMP now have to ask defenseless business men and women to refuse service to known gangsters, quite possibly putting them in the line of retaliatory fire, simply because the RCMP haven’t been able to deal with it ?

Seriously? Are you willing to ensure the safety of these business people Supt. Fordy?

Perhaps the millions spent on the new E division headquarters would have been better spent on more police on the streets, so men like Bill Fordy don’t have to get civilians to do their jobs.

“Brightening deadly road wasted effort” ~ Michael Booth, Surrey Now.

While two weeks of spring break is taking my attention elsewhere, I’ll be spending less time blogging, and concentrating more on a number of stories needing investigation. The BC Liberals seem to be up to more than a few of their old tricks with the Massey Tunnel replacement issue- I’m working on this story currently –  and of course, SNC Lavalin is again in the news – this story will be coming shortly.

Of course,I can usually be found checking in on twitter or facebook,and still check my emails frequently.

However, a column sent to me this morning was so well done, I really wanted to share it, particularly with my Surrey readers who have asked me for help in getting something done about the ‘temporary’ slot machines that now may become permanent with the death of the South Surrey Casino.

While this column doesn’t get into this issue at all, it reminded me of the issues of  ongoing break-ins and thefts that continually plague the Newton area in ‘hot spots’ reported weekly to block watches and concerned citizens … which bring us back to policing in the city and the recent move by Surrey mayor Dianne Watts to install CCTV along Colebrook road.

Since January 1st, there have been 11 murders in 11 weeks in Surrey.

Looking back at yearly totals available on the Surrey RCMP website, which now only list 2011 and 2012 crime stats to the public, this is usually the cities average for an entire year.

Sometimes more, sometimes less, but in a city this size,even with as many gangs as we have operating here, 11 murders in 11 weeks does not bode well for 2013. Homicide investigations take time,divert officers and investigators from other priorities,it is a fact. There are only so many officers to go around on a shift.

Multiple homicides also play havoc on the cities policing budget for the year, which makes it all the more ridiculous that $80,000 is being spent on CCTV and motion sensor lights that will more than likely be vandalized by people in masks who can’t be identified whether or not a light goes off or not.

I know this particular area well, since it very close to a popular recreational area known as Mud Bay, where people of all ages go to ride bikes, walk etc.  And I was not at all alone in calling this a reactive move when it first hit the press, stating clearly in various social media forums that the money was better off spent on policing, since we don’t have nearly enough officers in a city that is experiencing non-stop population growth. Many agreed wholeheartedly.

Michael Booth of the Surrey Now, nails it in an excellent column and gets right to the heart of the issue. ( Colebrook road runs right below Panorama Ridge, a coveted upper middle to high income earning neighbourhood that has flexed its muscle power with the city once already when it came to mega homes.)

Here is an excerpt from his column:

What the cameras and sensors are almost guaranteed not to catch are criminals dumping bodies on the roadside. All of the attention the area has received of late, coupled with publicity about Surrey’s jacked up infrastructure in response to the bodies, means only the dimmest of thugs will be making late-night drives along Colebrook Road in the foreseeable future.

Such altered behaviour patterns means the city’s $80,000 is essentially wasted.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and city staff are in a tough spot on this one. The rising body count certainly is a blow to all of the positive work done by Watts and Surrey council to clean up the city’s image.

Residents who live in the area certainly don’t want corpses scattered nearby and given the socioeconomic demographic of the neighbourhood, their complaints are more likely to be heard by city officials than if bodies started turning up in, oh, let’s say, vacant lots in Whalley.

What’s that you say? Bodies of crime victims and drug users do turn up regularly in North Surrey without extra city dollars being spent on extra lighting and cameras?

Well, good news! Once the new City Hall opens in Whalley, the city’s priority list should change dramatically.


Now read the rest of this courageous column over at The Now: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/Brightening+deadly+road+wasted+effort/8130759/story.html

The issue of crime in Surrey- ( which,incidentally, has increased for a number of crimes most apt to impact residents here like residential break ins, thefts from autos and auto thefts -see link above to RCMP stats, read 4th quarter summaries, year to date from current year to last)- is an issue not just for municipal politicians,but provincial ones as well.

Current NDP and Liberal MLA’s in the city would do well to look at what they have done, or can do, to assist in restoring cuts to justice system elements that are have resulted in court backlogs and increasing wait times for trials.

City staff listen to Surrey residents and say no to increase in monster homes

However, there is a catch, albeit one I think many Surrey-ites can live with.

In last nights council meeting, city council said no to the proposed increase requested by the Surrey Ratepayers Association, and told city planners to approach a neighbourhood by neighbourhood zoning approach. In this manner, anybody wishing to increase the home size in a particular neighbourhood, would have to go through a re-zoning process to do so, specific to that neighbourhood. This places the responsibility of  allowing monster home builds squarely on the people who will be affected by them within their own communities.

Using this approach, two neighbourhoods have already successfully fought the encroachment of monster homes into their  older neighbourhoods, with 70% of their community supporting the proposal.  St Helen’s Park, for example, went through several years of  dialogue and planning with the city before being zoned Comprehensive Development. There are strict guidelines for new home builders in the neighbourhood that prohibit the building of monster homes, so that residents can preserve the characteristics of the neighbourhood, and maintain  a sustainable level of space for all. Potential new home owners are advised of the guidelines  by their realtors in advance of purchasing in the area.

Overall, the St. Helen’s model has been a success, and the neighbourhood retains a very livable feel and appearance – unlike many other neighbourhoods in Surrey, where green space and trees have all been razed in place of monster homes. 

As for me, I say it’s about  time council started listening to residents, because in light of recent council decisions regarding the Welcome Home rehab facility, and allowing slots into one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city, the city has been accused of ignoring residents concerns and their duties as  council members.

A recent column by Frank  Bucholtz in the Surrey Leader, highlights the lack of proper consultation between the city and it’s residents, and he says that the cities consultation process is broken.  In uncustomary fashion, I’ve  included it here in its entirety, because I felt in this case, taking excerpts, really takes away from his  total message. Frank makes some excellent points.

COLUMN: Public left out of process

by Frank Bucholtz -Surrey North Delta Leader

Surrey’s consultation process is broken.

I couldn’t agree more with Coun. Barinder Rasode, who lamented the divisiveness and lack of meaningful dialogue at the five open houses on amending Surrey’s bylaw to allow larger homes to be built on the traditional 60-foot lots which were once the suburban standard.

Rasode said she would like to take a good look at the structure of Surrey’s public information meetings.

“I’d like it to be a true exchange of information and I don’t think these ones were. As a council, we need to take a look at (consultation) and see how we can do that differently.”

Her words came at a most opportune time. Not only has the consultation on large homes been divisive and controversial, it wound up just as the city made another attempt at consultation, this time on the plan to allow an adventure park in Redwood Park. A proposal for a five-hectare area “wild play” area, including zip lines, suspension bridges and scramble nets, was the subject of an open house on Tuesday night.

This meeting is a classic illustration of all that Rasode finds objectionable. It was held months after the initial suggestion of an adventure park was brought to public attention.

There was minimal notice to those who are interested. Unless one checks the city website regularly, or happens to see an advertisement (which do not reach some Surrey residents at all), these meetings are never known to most people.

In addition, this meeting was held from 6 to 8 p.m., which is not the most opportune time for people who are just on their way home from work, and it was held at Hall’s Prairie Elementary, the night before a statutory holiday. The school is located in a remote rural part of Surrey that is miles from a transit line.

Had I known about this meeting more than 24 hours in advance, I would have attended, given my strong concern that Surrey is letting a unique heritage park be partially taken over by a private company.

Nonetheless, the city persists in holding sham meetings like this. They take place on the premise that no one can complain about a project if such a meeting is held, because they had the opportunity to speak up.

I’ve attended many of these meetings over the years, on several occasions about development plans in my neighbourhood. They are set-ups from the very beginning. Opinions that are at odds with the planning department are pushed off to the side and never featured in any report on the meetings.

Surrey, whether by accident or design, uses a scattergun approach to public consultation. Citizens are allowed to have their say, but the feedback is so diffused as a result of the process, the essence of their concerns is completely lost.

There are exceptions. When the community is able to rally around one project and it captures enough of the public’s interest, as happened with the planned road extension through Bear Creek Park, city staff and council cannot ignore it.

But in most other situations, the current approach works very well in ensuring that the city is run by senior staff in exactly the way they want it run, with minimal interference from council – and particularly from pesky citizens.

Newton neighbourhoods still rife with prostitutes,drugs and crime – despite city’s Newton Revitalization Plan

It has been  just over one year since I spent the afternoon taking Susana da Silva and her cameraman on a driving tour of Newton. 

One year.

In response to increasing frustration among home and business owners in the neighbourhood regarding the cities lack of action, I decided enough was enough and called the CBC to suggest they cover the story of the degradation in Newton. They took up the story immediately.

Neighbourhood associations and individual complaints had not been getting anywhere with city hall, and the increase in property crimes,(often unreported),prostitution and drug activity had become intolerable to those of us who live in the surrounding areas.

To sum it up, Newton had become the new Whalley.  And unfortunately today, one year after the story broke,  it still is.

The sad news this weekend that a young child had been sexually assaulted in Newton shocked many, and while I cringed at the story in anger, what struck me was the description of the  activities in the area where it took place. The residents are  still experiencing all the same issues covered in the CBC story. My hope is that the man who did this disgusting act is caught and brought to justice. Here is the police sketch artists rendering, based on the childrens description:

Surrey RCMP have released a composite drawing of a sexual-assault suspect.

If you see this man,call the Surrey RCMP at (604) 599-7800 He is described as a darker-skinned man, possibly Hispanic, Asian or South Asian, in his late 20s or early 30s. He is about five feet nine (175 cm) tall, with short black hair and wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt, blue or black pants and shiny shoes. He spoke with a slight accent.

Neighbours in this area of Newton say it is frequented by prostitutes, johns and “shady people”. They say that they have bugged the city for better lighting thinking that it will drive some of the activity away.  In a story with the Province, one teenager said : ” We’ve always had a very scary neighbourhood. I haven’t even felt safe. I’ve seen hookers come go to people’s cars all the time.”

No kidding.  Me too.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news to them, but better street lighting doesn’t keep the hookers away, as many residents in Newton/ Panorama Ridge will tell you.

Which brings me back to how bad this area really is, living with so many social service agencies and a major shelter in our midst, with plans for one more the would house chronic offenders. What  has happened in the year since the CBC story I did with Susana da Silva? 

 Let me tell you. ( the following links take you to the mayors response and the audio file  from the story) http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/newtons-turn-to-be-the-focus/


Within  a couple weeks of the story, murals went up on the Newton rec centre. Planters filled with flowers and street banners lines the Newton town core area along 72nd, off of King George. And then began the meetings with the Sustainable Communities people and the city. ( Great, now the addicts have a nicer looking area to deal in)

I can tell you with all certainty, there were a hell of a lot of meetings, and even more talk and money spent that in my opinion, went nowhere and were all a complete waste of time. A planner was hired, public information meetings were held for residents to inspire community pride and give information about how to better our neighborhoods. All part of the great Newton Revitalization plan that apparently has gone nowhere. But at least the city can say they did something…

Ha.It’s laughable, it really is.  There has been no change. None whatsoever, and in fact, if one of you reporters out there reading this would like, I’ll take you around to the same areas I took Susana, and you can see that all the scum is still there. You can pretty it up, but that doesn’t hit the core of the issues that make this city difficult to live in.

The prostitutes are still all over, and so are the johns.In fact, I get stalked at  least twice a week on my morning runs by creepy guys looking to get laid before work.In their mini-vans. With car seats. No kidding. Apparently even a woman wearing running clothes who is actually –  duh – running, is worth a try at 5 am.  These are only the ones on the street, not taking into account all the ones working from their rented suites.

The car break- ins continue – reported or not – unabated. The street gutters are littered with broken windshield glass. The Surrey RCMP just issued the regular summer rise in residence break ins warning.

The  outdoor drug activity is blossoming once again with the warmer weather, as is the movement of the indigent population, many of which are sleeping under trees and in shaded areas in our local community parks.

There are panhandlers and addicts who will  harass you if you look like you have money on the streets around Newton town core.

It’s a joke, an insult to residents and an embarrassment to the city of Surrey and the mayor. And the really horrid part of it is that this is not just happening in my area, it’s still happening in Whalley, it is happening in Fleetwood, and many other neighbourhoods.  So, while the mayor entertains royalty, speaks about how wonderful  the development opportunities are, and basically plugs business here every chance she gets, the truth is that residents are losing what , if any, pride in their homes and their neighbourhoods.  I wonder- is that a symptom of  a sick city, or an indicator of a bigger issue?

I do know with all certainty, that IT IS a direct reflection on Dianne Watts and  her councils ability to lead our city forward in a manner that increases the quality of life for residents and businesses, not take away from it. Business parks do not a city make.

Whether or not the horrific crime perpetrated on an innocent child can be attributed to the deplorable conditions of the neighbourhood is unknown. What is known,however, is that the citys superficial rejuvenation plan has not worked, and I suspect if the city alters it’s own bylaws to allow slots into the mix, it will become even worse.   Newton –  a tourist destination ? More like a dead end or rock bottom for many. Time to stop flogging  the public relations  logo ” The future lives here”, because the truth is that Dianne Watts is mayor to the next DTES.

Although there has been much speculation about how the international media will portray the Vancouver during 2o1o, I suspect there is a sleeper of a story here.

My big question is this :  What will  Mayor Dianne Watts have to say to the international media when they see the real face of Surrey –  which is not one to be proud of.

Is 5 years, two months (less 10 months credit for time served) justice enough for the victims in two shocking and violent assaults ?

That’s right.

 For  a variety of charges including  two counts of attempted murder ,1 count of  aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes, Shazad SardarAli received  5 years and two months in jail -with credit for 10 months served. 

He also was given a lifetime ban on firearms/weapons possession, and must submit a DNA sample.  An excerpt from the story I followed last year provides the details:

” Shahzad Sardar-Ali , 31, has a lengthy criminal record of violent criminal acts, including assault and robbery. He is no stranger to the courts.

On this last weekend, Surrey RCMP responded to a report of domestic assault. On arriving at the north Surrey home, they discovered a 19 year old woman with extensive stab wounds to her face, head and arms. Her attacker also hit her over the head with a 75lb dumb-bell. Thankfully, she is alive, and remains in hospital for her injuries. Shazad was her boyfriend, and RCMP immediately began looking for his whereabouts – he was finally arrested Tuesday night outside a Newton hotel.

Shahzad Sardar-Ali is now charged with attempted murder, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and breach of recognizance.

Yes that’s right, breach of recognizance . In attacking this young woman, he broken his bail terms.

This violent man was out on bail, stemming from assault charges that occurred July 1st  involving his ex-girlfriend. He had been released on the condition he have no contact with her, unfortunately for this new victim, no one thought of her or any other woman he may come in contact with…”

Prior to his arrest, Surrey RCMP took the step of warning the public about the offender, with instructions not to approach him if encountered or seen, due to his criminal history of  several violent robberies and assault. And so, of course this time he was kept in custody while waiting for trial and sentencing.

While the terms vary for attempted murder, this sentence clearly tells me two things. One – that the criminal justice system in BC does not value the life of the victim, or in this case, two victims. Remember, the fellow was out on bail for one violent assault on his ex, when he tried to kill the new girl.  Two, that the court must fully expect him to commit some heinous crime again because they required a DNA sample. Smart move, but an even smarter one would have been to give him a stiffer sentence so he maybe has a chance to really get the meaning of justice while he’s sitting in the brink somewhere being someone else’s bee- atch for a while.

While changes to criminal justice system seem to be forthcoming,- something that is long past due – the time has come for all agencies to buck up when it comes to crime against women. This fellow has an established pattern of violent crimes that has now extended itself to two violent attacks against women he knew. 5 years is not sending the message to him, or other offenders that the law takes this seriously. In fact, it makes me laugh to think that a violent attack like this gets 5 years. ( there are 5 other charges against SardarAli that I am following up on shortly -the court clerks were  swamped at the time of this posting) I suspect, but have not confirmed, that there may have been a plea bargain in the deal somewhere with respect to these other charges.

Why does this light sentencing continue to occur in cases where the offender has demonstrated a clear propensity for habitual violence?

The RCMP are doing the best they can with what they have- the majority of the time. They are making the arrests and recommending charges. But the onus then passes on to crown to decide whether or not the charges should or will be pursued, and then again, to the judge for sentencing.

New attorney general Michael de Jong has a tough job ahead of him, because in my opinion this case is a classic example of a miscarriage of justice.

Lock your doors in 4 years, people, I don’t think this guy will be ” finding the light” while in jail.  There’s more where this came from.

This is what’s wrong with our “Justice” system

Earlier this year, on March 13th, I blogged about a shooting that had occurred in broad daylight, in a residential cul-de-sac where children play freely.

Some men were arguing in front of one of the homes. The verbal disagreement became a physical fight and at that time another man puled out a gun and shot another man in the back ,paralyzing him permanently from the waist down. 

 My account of the aftermath is here.  http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/bullets-tear-through-residential-cul-de-sac-home-to-many-families-with-children/

The man who fired the gun,Jessie Dhinda,  left the scene and in a press release issued  by the RCMP to the public, was described as “armed and dangerous”. Makes sense – he  had, after all, just shot a man in the back and left him critically injured.

Jessie Dhinda was later apprehended by police and charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one charge of discharging a firearm with the intent to wound or disfigure.

This same man, is now back out on our streets, a free man-  as reported  by Dan Ferguson in this excerpt from The Surrey Leader :

” Jaspal “Jessie” Dhindsa of Surrey is back on the street, free on bail while he waits to stand trial for allegedly shooting another man in the back.

A Surrey Provincial Court judge ordered Dhindsa’s release on April 9, court records show.

The 22-year-old  has been ordered to have no contact with two individuals and is banned from possessing firearms.”

 ~ http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/43563192.html

How does this work? You shoot a man in the back and paralyze him, and it’s called assault.  On a busy street with children about.  Clearly endangering the public.

Of course, it makes sense to give him bail. Of course. He’s been out for almost a month, enjoying the sunshine.

Of course that makes sense.

He must  not  be armed and dangerous anymore…

Criminals facing trial applaud VANOC’s commandeer of the RCMP for 10 weeks during 2010

If you don’t follow David Berner’s  blog now, I suggest that you do. He writes and comments and talks about various important issues facing those of us in Lotusland, and often touches on items that would otherwise escape the scrutiny of the public.

Imagine my surprise when scrolling through his feed this morning, to see that I had completely missed one such topic of great importance….

“The criminal justice system will be on hold for 10 weeks before, during and after the Gordon Games. (DISRUPTION) the disturbing and undemocratic power now given to VANOC.  

RCMP and other police will be too busy on security assignments to testify in local courts.

This peculiar news raises another other questions.

Will policing in general be “on hold” at the same time?

Does this make the calendar period from January 15 to March 26, 2010 a great time to commit murder, robbery, rape and other public mayhem?

The other day we pointed out in this space

This is what I wrote:

“VANOC is now apparently the highest form of government in the land, unelected though it may be. VANOC can close streets, re-route traffic hire or buy buses by the freight load and do just about any darn thing it wants to in order to make its famous Games work.”

How little I knew in the dark days of Thursday.”

 Read the remainder of Davids post on his blog here: http://thebernermonologues.blogspot.com/2009/03/hold-that-thought-im-at-olympics.html

After reading his post, I clicked on the imbedded link  which lead me to his Globe and Mail story, that frankly, is very alarming. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090314.BCCOURTS14/TPStory/TPNational/BritishColumbia/

There have been 5 shootings  recently near my home  in Surrey alone, three of them uncomfortably, nerve-wracking close. The RMCP are absolutely and completelyswamped with the onslaught of criminals in our lovely coastal cities. The Vancouver police are busier than ever. Delta Police are resorting to kicking the gangsters out into other cities, like mine. http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/news/41171304.html

The RCMP have promised us throughout this increasing violence they are doing everything in their power to get these people off the streets.

” We will do everything we can to get these people off the streets, and make it clear this criminal behavior will not be tolerated.”

 So they have been making arrests and crown has been laying charges faster than hens lay eggs. Many of these cases may end up before the courts next year- around the time of 2010.

So of course, it makes perfect sense for the RCMP to announce their officers will not be available to testify as witnesses in any cases between January 15th to March 26th, 2010- because VANOC needs them for security.

How utterly and completely ridiculous. The following excerpt details the issues behind the RCMPs decision:

      ”  The news has angered some criminal lawyers, who say that without police witnesses, the courts will be virtually shuttered.

         Vancouver lawyer Chris Johnson said most court officials expected delays, but nothing like what the police are pitching.

        “The police are one part of the justice system and they’ve taken this move without any consideration for any other part, which is, what I    think, kind of shocking.”

          Robert Holmes, president of the Trial Lawyers’ Association of British Columbia, said a 10-week delay in criminal cases could be viewed as unconstitutional if defendants are denied speedy trials.

         “That is problematic from several perspectives,” Mr. Holmes said. “One is the basic principle that the courts should be open and available all the time ”

I understand the security commitments inherent to any Olympic games.

The athletes, the venues, the visitors… all must be safeguarded to prevent  any hint of chaos and tragedy from occurring. Terrorism is a real threat in some circles.

But what about the host country and its residents? Must we all go to the extent that some criminals could escape justice due to an unreasonable delay? Our courts are already clogged and behind, and considering the cuts Gordon Campbell and his Liberals have targeted the  justice system with  they are likely to become more so.

Again, it makes perfect sense to put it all on hold so the world can party at our expense.

And here is where David Berner’s best question comes into play…

                                  ” Will policing in general be “on hold” at the same time?

                                    Does this make the calendar period from January 15 to March 26, 2010 a great time to commit murder, robbery, rape and 

                                    other public mayhem?”

Excellent and valid question David….because if the majority of the RCMP are busy keeping the rest of the world safe  in Vancouver and Whistler….. who will be minding the streets everywhere else?


****It’s been a busy few days around here, so be sure to scroll down to read the weekends news, or click on the following links:



BREAKING NEWS 9:40 pm March 3rd: RCMP investigate reports of shots fired in Newton – again.

68th avenue blocked off to traffic as police investigate reports of shots fired near the scene of Friday nights shootout
68th avenue blocked off to traffic as police investigate reports of shots fired near the scene of Friday nights shootout

The second period  of the Canucks game had just started  at about 8pm, as the sound of shots rang loud and clear as if outside my door. I froze in disbelief and shivered as I listened in shock.

4 shots in quick succession, followed by perhaps another 4, slower and more deliberate .

Making sure someone was in charge of the kids, I grabbed my camera and ran down the street at full speed ….. to the sound of sirens approaching.

By the time I made it to 68th avenue, officers were arriving on the scene and I joined up with one of them as we walked towards the home where the most recent shootout occurred.

At the time of this posting, ( 9:42 pm) police are investigating with dogs, and it seems pertinant to note that the shots were fired in the area of the same home where a shootout occurred Friday night around midnight.

RCMP have confirmed that a single male appeared shortly thereafter at a local hospital with ” non life-threatening injuries”, but at this time no names or other statements have been released.

RCMP dogs search for evidence
RCMP dogs search for evidence

I spoke with some of the people on the scene, and it is clear that the neighbourhood has undergone a radical change in recent years. A trio of ladies I spoke with nodded in agreement when talking about the problems we are facing with drugs and prostitution, and now, gang violence. It was mentioned that there are several gangsters who are known to live in the immediate area, which lead to talk about how we can protect ourselves if we are not even safe to walk our dogs at night without fear of being in the cross fire.

An Indian man I spoke with, Ranjit, whose home is only doors away from the home where the recent shootout occurred, suggested that ” we all get together and pull the gangster out of his house and tape him to a power pole so they can be done with him. Then we can all live without fear for a while.”

He is afraid to let his kids play in the living room that faces the street where the shootings have occurred and is angry. Angry that these people live among us. Angry that nothing is easing the violence.

Key words there ?  ” live without fear for a while.”

I  have to mention how impressed I am with the speed that the RCMP flooded the area with their presence. It was handled quickly, quietly and with the professionalism that one expects from such a revered institution. Kudos go out on response time tonight.

*** update 4:30 am – CKNW is reporting the male who was shot in this incident is in intensive care, and  that there was another drive by shooting last night at 155 and 100th ave in Surrey around midnight, where shots were fired into a home known to police.

Stabbing in Newton sends one to hospital- right in front of me.

RCMP lead young male away for questioning at Newton Bus Loop in Surrey
RCMP lead young male away for questioning at Newton Bus Loop in Surrey

One young man is in hospital with what are described as non- life threatening injuries, and police are searching for  a single male suspect who fled the scene on foot.

This, after I found myself smack dab in the middle of a police incident at the Newton Wave pool and Recreational Centre this evening.

As I made my way through the crowd, two officers halted one male youth in front of me, to the angry cries of teenage girls nearby who were screaming ” He didn’t do it, he’s the wrong one!”

As the young male was taken by officers to a nearby car for questioning- he was later released, I’m told-  I overheard two young men in the crowd behind us, quietly talking about getting out of there. Turning around, I asked them who they were,and what  had just happened. Jeremy V. and Bobby D. claim to be ‘friends’ of the man who they say, was stabbed right before their eyes.

” This guy, he went over to “get”some stuff, you know, some stuff, and my friend, he told them he didn’t have anything for him. Next thing you know, the guy gets pissed and says give me your wallet,man,and he like, JACKS  him, right there. ”

” You were right there? You actually saw this happen? What do you mean, jacks him?” I asked

” Oh,like he pulled out a knife and Uhnn, Uhhnnn, Uhhnm like two, three times.( he pantomimes stabbing motions towards the other kids ribs under his arm)  He wanted his cash. Like, I think maybe he got his lungs, because it was like, black black blood coming out man, like he was down.  But it’s not the guy who they got there, he was just chillin’ with his posse.”

” Have you talked to the police and told them this yet? You need to talk to them.” I told them.

“Oh man, like no way! Noooo , no way, like we are out of here ’cause we don’t need that crap.We aren’t saying nothing. This guy does business here, you know what I’m saying? We don’t need that. Hey, you wanta take our picture with your camera? ”

” Sure.”  I revealed to them that I’m a local writer,but not with any papers. I obtained their contact information and urged them to tell police what they know, then moved on to find an officer around the back who I could pass this information onto, in the event it would assist. But not before talking to some people around the scene.

Janet L., 70, was waiting for a bus – knitting – while all of this was going on.I could not believe it. Just sitting there knitting, with all the  RCMP and lights and sirens. I asked her what she thought of the violence around her at the moment.

” I don’t even look, my dear, or they will come after me.” Janet takes the bus home from the senior centre in the area,where she plays Wii with the other residents. She doesn’t like taking the bus here, but has no choice. Her eyesight had diminished severely in the last year, so transit is her only option. I asked her if she has any issues with this area and she rolls her eyes.

” Who doesn’t ?” she laughs, but more from nervousness than glee. ” But what can you do? No one listens, no one cares about us old folk.”

“I care”, I say to Janet, getting angry, and then I gave her my card and continued on my way, stopping again to speak with two community patrol volunteers.

I told them who I was, and that I had a concern that the cosmetic attempt to make things better in the area clearly is not working. They nodded in agreement.

They both laughed when I said that the city thinks people in Surrey are reacting to a ” cliched perception” of Surrey’s old reputation.That it is in fact, generally safe around here.

“This area is the worst! ” one of the two said.They are always chasing dealers and addicts away from the Loop and Rec Centre, calling in incidents to the RCMP for handling.

I asked them if they carried protection, and they both said that they had only their radios. I shook my head at that one. The dealers own that Newton bus loop, and I am not the only one who knows it.

Saying goodbye, I spotted a fellow who works with the  Community Patrol around the Newton Rec Centre, and I asked him what happened. He  told  me  that he heard someone got stabbed, but it was not confirmed. I told him about the two guys I talked to, and he pointed over to an officer coming in our direction.

Heading over, I told the officer who I am and that I spoke to two guys over at the bus loop who claimed to be with the victim and that I have their names and a photo of them. He told me he had already talked to them, and that unless I actually saw what happened he didn’t need my information.

Then he walked away.

One would think that he would at least confirm that the youth I spoke to were  in fact,the same ones that he spoke to – but he did not.  As he continued on, the victim, a young male, was wheeled out on a stretcher by ambulance attendants.

Newton stabbing victim
Newton stabbing victim

The Surrey RCMP have issued this press release:

Surrey – Surrey Stabbing – Newton Bus Loop

File #2009-234672009-02-27 18:38 PST
At 5:00pm, Surrey RCMP received a report that a 20 year old man was stabbed in an altercation with another young man near the bus loop located on 72nd Avenue near King George Highway. The suspect was chased from the scene and fled Southwest. He was not located. He is described as a white male in his early 20’s, 5’9″ wearing a red jersey or hoodie and sunglasses. The victim was transported to hospital with what are described as non-life threatening injuries. Surrey RCMP are on scene and investigating.

Anyone who witnessed this or has information, please contact the Surrey RCMP at (604)599-0502 or contact Crimestoppers.


I  left the scene, but was not able to shake the feeling of disgust and disbelief that followed me home.

I have been writing about the Newton area for over a year. I live in an area  that is approximately a 20 minute run away, and only a short distance from one of the recent gang hits.

It is “supposed” to be a nice area.  But it’s not.

A year ago, I took a CBC camera-man, led by  reporter Susana da Silva, on a driven tour of the area.

I showed them where city hall plans to install slot machines. I showed them all the cheque cashing businesses that have cropped up. They documented the criminal element in the area – the drug dealing, the prostitution –  along with gun casings and needles and used up old condoms…. http://www2.canada.com/surreynow/news/letters/story.html?id=98c894af-b0ad-44ab-b845-4a8372830cb4

But it appears to have all been in vain.

A “Newton Rejuvenation” plan the mayor announced within two weeks of that story has resulted in  nothing  6 months later, but  some street banners, some planters that are now gone, and a $40,000 contract for an urban planner that – on the advice of others- is exploring  projects within the areas that will restore pride to the area residents.

Pride? Pride?

They aren’t talking crime and social evils. They are talking about things like planting trees and flowers and all those touchy-feely,warm fuzzy kind of things. They are not even addressing ” the issues.”

Band-aids. Things like the murals that the city installed at the very same wave pool where the dealers harass me three times a week.

Where the stabbing happened tonight.

I have had enough.

I am sick of seeing these dealers everytime I go through this bus loop. I am tired of talking to people here who feel like I do, but also feel immobilized by the lack of action.

I am sick of hearing the mayor saying how the other levels of government have let her down in her big crime prevention plan.

I am tired of worrying about whether or not I am going to get robbed when I go out for a walk because I have nice jewellery.

I am sick of  worrying whether or not I will find myself- or worse yet ,my children- in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I feel so bad that my dad in Prince George worries about me just living here. He wants us to move out of Surrey and back to the Steveston area of Richmond, where we previously lived.

What more can  I do?  Brings to mind a line from a movie I recently saw.

” I have nothing. No money, no power.

But my words are my fists, and I wield them as weapons and I am coming out fighting…”

Rubin ” The Hurricane”  Carter

Newton Wave Pool / Bus Loop
Newton Wave Pool / Bus Loop
Newton Bus loop
Newton Bus loop

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