It’s time to get tougher with gangs, said Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd following the downtown shooting that left one notorious B.C. gangster dead and four others injured on Sunday.
“I’m not opposed to putting out a strong message that gangs are not welcome here,” she said, noting that Sunday afternoon’s shooting put tourists and locals at risk.
Already some downtown businesses have put a ban on flying gang colours, which is a measure Shepherd commended, although there’s more that can be done.
Specifically, Shepherd told the media gathered at her city hall office on Monday that she would like to see a registry of gang-affiliated businesses be published.
It’s something local police have offered up in the past, and she’d like to see it again.
Above all else, however, Shepherd said higher levels of government support is needed to get rid of gangland style activities.
“We have to get stronger,” she said. “But it’s not just one community—one community can’t fight this. It has to be a provincial and federal initiative and it has to be funded.”
For three years the Okanagan and Kootenays have had a gang task force, although Shepherd said they have only been active for the last year and a half.
Federal funding for that initiative is about to run out and Shepherd and her counterparts are working to keep it going.
“Mayors of the largest communities in Okanagan and Kootenays are encouraging governments to put the money forward,” she said.
“There are gangs throughout the Interior of B.C. and we need concentrated efforts.”