Election 2014: Digging at the source of crime

City of Surrey: John Edwards, a former health professional, says work must be done to address mental illness and addictions

John Edwards

At age 66, John Edwards insists he not be called sir. That was an honourific more befitting his father, he says.

Edwards, a former health professional and businessman, says crime and its root causes form the number-one issue in Surrey.

First and foremost, he says, is the out-of-control problem of drug addiction.

“I feel that we must do something about the high level of drug usage, and therefore drug addiction in Surrey, if we’re going to do anything meaningful about crime reduction,” Edwards says.

Other contributing factors to criminal activity are poverty and homelessness, where people feel they need to break into homes and cars to survive.

Mental illness is key culprit.

“I believe that 40 per cent of all people with drug addictions have a mental illness,” Edwards says. “Therefore the incidence of crime is fairly high among people with mental illness.”

Creating activities for the large number of youth in in Surrey will also reduce some of the more petty crimes, he says.

He believes a community court would help deal with the “tertiary” problems of crime. It would get offenders into treatment or rehab much more quickly.

He believes the region needs a much better way of helping people with mental illness.

In addition, social services and housing will help people get back on their feet and out of the criminal lifestyle.

“Now, let me say this, we will never get rid of crime, so it’s foolish for people to say ‘we’re going to eliminate it’,” Edwards warns. “We can reduce it, but as a city, we’re always going to have some criminal activity going on.”

He wants to see “massive” education in schools to prevent kids from getting involved in gang activity.”

He wants to hire retired cops right away so Surrey doesn’t have to wait for new RCMP recruits to go through training.

He also wants to strengthen police shifts on weekends when the needs are greater.

Edwards also wants more prevention and education programs for the public about how to keep thieves from breaking into homes and cars. That education would be delivered by way of public service announcements.

He believes a lack of viable transportation is the second greatest issue facing this city and that Surrey needs to have a better relationship with TransLink.

“It’s my plan to have a Surrey Transportation Authority,” a group of experts that would analyze and present to TransLink the transit needs of Surrey.

He says the city currently has a very disjointed system of transit that needs better planning.

Edwards wants to see subways.

“You look at London and Sydney, and instead of putting all that concrete structure in the environment, you just put them below ground and use (above-ground) space for other things,” Edwards says.

His third priority is youth engagement.  He wants to see children, teens and young men and women involved in city life at all levels.

That includes how the city is managed, crime and its origins, and education.

“I feel we are missing the boat when we don’t engage them,” he says.

He also wants to see a third university in Surrey, which he envisions as an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)-type facility.

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP investigating after ‘sudden death’ of man found with critical injuries

Police say a man is dead after being found laying on the ground in the 13300-block of 114th Avenue

Teen charged with possession of a loaded firearm after incident at Whalley park

Surrey RCMP say 17-year-old boy allegedly found in possession of loaded handgun

Kids Boost Immunity honours Surrey school for vaccine donations

Elementary students donate more than 3,000 vaccinations to UNICEF

Pug life: Waggish dog names listed in White Rock

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered with the city

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

Olympic auditions return to Lower Mainland

Event an opportunity for unknown athletes to shine and, maybe, change sports

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C. pedophile wins appeal after violating court order

Kelly Glen Isbister’s sentence was cut by the BC Court of Appeal

Most Read