The City of Prince George is seeking a $1.8 million federal grant over four years to reduce gun violence and gang activity in the city, following a vote by city council on Monday.
The city is one of many throughout Canada that are eligible for a portion of $250 million being offered to municipalities under the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence and the Building Safer Communities Fund, city director of public safety Adam Davey said.
“The delivery and project plan have not been developed yet,” Davey said. “We had very little warning (about the grant). We wanted to take advantage of these funds.”
The city would use the money to hire a program coordinator to develop a plan to use the money, Davey said.
“Funds can be distributed in a variety of ways,” he said, including potentially grants to local service agencies. “We are still in very early days.”
The program, developed by Public Safety Canada, is intended to help municipalities and Indigenous communities develop community-based crime prevention and intervention strategies, city manager of police support services Devon Cooper wrote in a report to city council.
The federal government is looking to start signing agreements with cities by June 15, Cooper wrote. The four-year funding would end on March 31, 2026.
“(If approved,) a new coordinator position will be hired to administer this initiative through 2026, and be directly costed to the $1.8M grant,” Cooper wrote. “In other words, there is no significant cost to the city to participate in this initiative, other than in-kind incremental startup administrative support. Updates on this program shall occur on an annual basis as part of the Police Services Annual Review.”
Coun. Brian Skakun said he is grateful to the federal government for the funding, but he hopes that council will retain some oversight on how the money is spent.
“I think a group appointed by council needs to supervise these funds,” Skakun said. “I think it is important that we have some control over where this money goes.”
“I think it is a good thing for our city,” Coun. Frank Everitt said.