Surrey mayoralty hopeful Tom Gill says Surrey’s children and teens will get into the city’s pools, rinks and gyms for free as part of an effort to keep them from joining gangs and getting involved in crime, if his Surrey First gets elected.
“This is what leadership is about,” he said. “This is only the beginning of Surrey First’s commitment to doing things differently. Let’s build a better future by imagining our city together.”
Gill revealed part of his slate’s public safety platform Wednesday afternoon, at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6 in Cloverdale. More of the slate’s plan, he said, will be unveiled next week.
“We need to get to our kids with positive programs and opportunities before the gangs do, and that means starting early,” Gill said. The free access would be “for the 125,000 Surrey youth aged 18 and younger.
“This is a $1 million annual investment in our future that will pay off in spades for decades to come,” he said.
“Keeping kids on the right path is as important over the long term as keeping criminals and guns off our streets in Surrey.”
Surrey First mayoralty candidate Tom Gill is promising free access to pools, rinks and gyms to Surrey youths under 18 as part of his slate's public safety platform heading into the October civic election. #surreybc pic.twitter.com/KAW1SA8j7N
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) September 12, 2018
“We spend close to $160 million every year on policing and we’ll continue to spend more,” he said, “but I also want to make sure we’re investing in our kids.”
Gill noted the city has 14 pools, five rinks and 11 community centres “with more on the way. “They’re the very best in the Lower Mainland and we’re going to put them to work alongside parents and neighbourhoods to provide our children with positive opportunities and experiences that help keep them safe and out of the reach of gangs. We know that gangs are targeting children as young as 10. This means that it is critical to provide alternatives to keep our children active, engaged in the community, with a positive outlook for their future.”
The mayoralty candidate also said Surrey First’s public safety plan includes the creation of a “centralized information hub” through which parents will be able to access anti-gang information and programs with a single 1-800 call.
“The Surrey First Plan will also provide additional intervention funding for more school and after-school programs as well as additional resources for RCMP outreach in local neighbourhoods,” Gill promised. “I will be actively reaching out to our partners in the federal and provincial governments to work with the city and join us with tangible dollars to match this five-year, $50 million plan, $30 million of which is devoted today to prevention and intervention initiatives.
“When we launched our campaign last week, I said that it was time to be bold. Today we have done just that.”