Williams Lake’s experiences with gang violence and crime will be presented by Mayor Walt Cobb during a panel discussion at the Union of BC Municipalities Conference’s opening day Monday in Victoria.
“I was asked to make a presentation on how the situation is different in a small and rural community like Williams Lake than in the Lower Mainland and share any lessons we’ve learned here that might help other rural municipalities concerned about gang violence and gang activities within their borders,” Cobb said Thursday.
Cobb said he doesn’t know that there are a lot of differences, except that the gangs in the Lower Mainland are more organized.
“Ours are pretty loose-knit gangs. They call themselves gangs, but they really aren’t as such. But they are involved in drugs and alcohol and all those kinds of issues.”
As far as the lessons from Williams Lake, Cobb is going to talk about the joint committees with the Ministry of Public Safety that are getting underway to identify and hopefully help people before they get involved with criminal activity.
“We are working with the First Nations bands in the region and the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society,” Cobb said. “A lot of these people have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and are First Nations. Anaham Chief Joe Alphonse has stated repeatedly that the court system is failing when it comes to these kids because they are not dealing with them as they should be.”
Joining Cobb on the panel are White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Surrey city councillor Mike Strachuk.