This week, I was happy to see the latest round of civil forfeiture grants benefit some of the great organizations in our region. $281,022 was granted to eight local organizations in Williams Lake, and a total of $5.5 million went to groups around the province.
This year’s total funding of $6.1 million is the highest yearly funding provided to organizations since the province introduced the Civil Forfeiture Program in 2006. Civil forfeiture funds come from the proceeds of unlawful activity and are used to fund programs that help to reduce crime and violence in our communities — civil forfeiture uses the proceeds of crime to fight crime. The program takes the profit motive out of crime. When it has been proven that property or assets have been acquired through unlawful activity, the proceeds from the sale of these assets can be used for civil forfeitures grants.
School District 27 will use the funds for the project, “Creating Connections and a Sense of Belonging,” which targets students aged eight to 16 who are “at-risk” of gang activity or involvement in crime, and offers them workshops on issues such as conflict resolution, cultural awareness and character building. Another school program, offered by Axis Family Resources Ltd. called the Violence is Preventable program, connects schools to community resources for supporting children who have been exposed to domestic violence. The Williams Lake Anti-Trafficking Committee received funding to build the capacity of service providers and community leaders in our region to address human trafficking. It will use a “train-the-trainer” model in Williams Lake and the surrounding rural and aboriginal communities.
Four different RCMP detachments in the region received funding for various purposes that include the purchase of training and briefing materials, as well as surveillance tools and thermal imaging equipment that will detect marijuana grow operations and help in search and rescue efforts.
These organizations are working to make our communities a safer place to live. We have seen dramatic decreases in crime in recent years, and the Civil Forfeitures Program is a fantastic way to continue this trend.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.