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City of Kelowna seeks to steer youth away from 'gang life'

Vernon Morning Star - 11/30/2022

Deterring young people from getting involved in gang life is the focus of a new program being led by the City of Kelowna.

It's a result of recent funding from Public Safety Canada through the Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF).

The BSCF supports community-led projects that combat gun and gang violence while addressing knowledge gaps on the impacts of interventions in gun and gang violence.

"The funds are for our city to partner and engage with the community in the development of youth gang reduction initiatives," said Darren Caul, community safety director.

Caul added that the city will receive just over $2 million over the next three years, starting with $202,095 for 2022/2023.

The initial funding will be used for public engagement and needs assessment to understand local issues, from which a gang reduction strategy will be drafted.

"It will focus on how can we identify young people who are at risk in our community and do our best to steer them away from the lure that gang involvement offers," said Caul.

As part of the strategy, the city partnered with Central Okanagan Public Schools (COPS) and Surrey-based Safer Schools Together (SST), earlier this year.