Abbotsford MP Ed Fast met with key community stakeholders last Friday to discuss Abbotsford’s Comprehensive Community Action for Gang Reduction Project.
The crime-prevention initiative is entering its second year in Abbotsford and is aimed at helping at-risk youth.
“I am glad to see that our government’s funding has given Abbotsford the support it needs to engage at-risk youth in a meaningful way, giving them the tools and opportunities they need to steer clear of crime,” Fast said.
Fast announced in January 2014 that the project would be backed by $6.3 million in federal funding from the Youth Gang Prevention Fund (YGPF).
Community partners involved in the five-year program are Abbotsford Community Services (ACS), the Abbotsford school district, the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland.
Last week’s meeting focused on the Year One Community Assessment Report, giving a snapshot of community perspectives on gang and youth violence.
APD Chief Bob Rich commended the project.
“We have a long way to go, but we have started down the right road. There is support for youth who need help in Abbotsford, and the federal government grant has helped us get this up and running. Let’s turn the corner on this problem and help our young people be who they were meant to be,” he said.
Fast said the findings are intended to help ACS and the project steering committee “to identify program priorities and strategies to enhance collaboration between agencies and other community stakeholders.”
The YGPF targets youth with a demonstrated history of serious violence and/or who are clearly at risk of joining gangs or are already in gangs.
The groups involved in the project are still in the discussion stages, and no specific projects have yet been developed in Abbotsford.