When growing pains become intolerable, the community needs to act.
This… is my Surrey.
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.
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.