SURREY (NEWS1130) – Newton is one of the Surrey neighbourhoods hardest hit by crime recently and while police search for solutions, area merchants are also dealing with the ongoing violence. However, businesses in the area aren’t giving up hope.
“Due to the tragedies that we’ve had in the past two years, from Julie Paskall to Serena Vermeersch and to the over 20 shootings we’ve had recently, obviously there is some concern, but I do believe we can turn the ship around,” says Philip Aguirre, who heads up the area’s Business Improvement Association.
Aguirre, is advocating for a neighbourhood revitalization — one, he feels, is long overdue.
He’s optimistic a meeting with police and politicians will push that plan forward.
“We can focus on area enhancement. Graffiti removal is one of the easiest ones, beautifying the area. Creating more events for Newton and having a more vibrant community where families can come together, businesses can come together.”
He hopes that will create more of a sense of pride and in turn create more jobs, and drive out crime, although he admits, safety is always priority number one.
“More paramount to that is safety. What can we do to curtail recent tragedies we’ve had in Newton? We can definitely have more RCMP on the street but we can solve a lot of the crime issues with revitalizing.”
Aguirre, who also owns a restaurant in Surrey, says more business in the area is the biggest part of any revitalization.
“Updating the infrastructure that’s there and putting a focus on the economy and education. If we have more jobs in the area, more businesses re-locating to Surrey by incentive from property taxes, increasing transportation affordability, then there will be more jobs for youth. And that gives them a viable option.”
It’s an option, he says, is not as viable today.
Last night, hundreds of people gathered in Surrey for a public forum with different policing agencies and the mayor to talk about how to reduce the level of crime in their city. Many people thought it was best for parents to be more involved in their children’s’ lives, while others demanded more police officers on the ground.
There have been nearly two dozen shootings in the Surrey-Delta area since the beginning of March.