Government taking action on gun crime in the British Columbia Interior with up to $6.9 million for prevention programs

News release

March 15, 2023 - Kelowna, British Columbia

People in the British Columbia (BC) Interior and communities across Canada deserve to feel safe in their communities.

That’s why the Government of Canada is taking action with a comprehensive plan that gets guns off our streets and puts more resources into our communities. An important element of this work is stopping violence before it starts, which is why the government launched the $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF). First announced in March 2022, the BSCF supports local initiatives that prevent gun and gang violence and help young people make good choices.

Today Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, on behalf of the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, announced that the BC Interior will receive up to $6.9 million from the BSCF to prevent gun crime and gang violence in the region. This funding will help address the underlying conditions that give rise to crime. The municipality will distribute it to community-led projects for young people involved in gangs or at risk of joining them – helping them set themselves up for success in life.

No single program or initiative can tackle the challenge of gun crime on its own. The BSCF is one of many elements in the Government’s plan to keep Canadians safe.

Our work begins at Canada’s borders, where we’ve added resources to fight smuggling and stop guns from coming into the country. The Government banned assault-style firearms like the AR-15 two years ago and will soon begin a buyback program to get these guns out of our communities. Last October, a national freeze on handguns was implemented. Finally, we recently introduced Bill C-21 – Canada’s most significant action on gun violence in a generation. In addition to the handgun freeze, it proposes significant provisions to combat organized crime and address the alarming role of guns in domestic violence.           


“My number one priority as Minister of Public Safety is keeping Canadians safe. Investments in grassroots efforts in the BC Interior are essential to addressing the social conditions that lead youth and young adults to get involved in a life of crime. Put simply, we must stop gun and gang violence before it starts.”

- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety

“This funding from the Building Safer Communities Fund will help support at-risk youth to make healthier choices and better set themselves up for success in life. I look forward to seeing the difference it will make for young people across the BC Interior.”

- Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

“We applaud Public Safety Canada and the Government of Canada for proactively making these funds available. The $2 million Kelowna has been allocated is already at work, facilitating a regional partnership program with Central Okanagan Public Schools. The program seeks to interrupt the pathways that can lead high-risk, vulnerable youth toward gun and gang involvement. It will make a big difference in the lives of our community’s youth.”

- Tom Dyas, Mayor of the City of Kelowna

"On behalf of the citizens of Kamloops and surrounding communities I would like to thank the Federal Government for the funding to support the  RCMP  in its challenges to make for a safer community and to fight all criminal activity in our communities.”

- Reid Hamer-Jackson, Mayor of the City of Kamloops

"The Building Safer Communities Fund will make a significant difference in Salmon Arm by supporting our most vulnerable youth. Thirteen community organizations have collaborated to co-create a solution to the local challenges for youth in Salmon Arm and area.  This inter-agency, collective effort will target specific risk factors associated with gun and gang involvement and improve youth resilience and inclusivity in Salmon Arm and area. Truly, when we work together we can build a safer, healthy community for all.”

- Alan Harrison, Mayor of the City of Salmon Arm

"As elected officials, it is important that we find practical ways to make differences in our communities and this announcement is a template on how we can work together. Instead of a one-size-fit-all solution,  the federal government has provided resources and trusting each community to find answers that work for them. In Penticton, it has brought our agencies together and allowed us to develop some innovative ideas.”

- Julius Bloomfield, Mayor of the City of Penticton

"Fostering a safe and welcoming environment is one of Council’s top priorities, and finding ways to positively and proactively engage our community is one way we can work together to prevent crime before it happens. That’s why the City is grateful for the Government of Canada’s investment through the Building Safer Communities Fund to help local service providers offer thoughtful and effective programming and initiatives to support youth at risk.”

- Victor Cumming, Mayor of the City of Vernon

Quick facts

  • Public Safety Canada is finalizing agreements with municipalities and communities that have been identified through evidence-based criteria and meet the program requirements. 

  • The amount of BSCF support for a community is based on two major elements: crime severity (homicide by firearm, incidents of firearms offences, organized crime/street gang-involved crime) and population density. 

  • The BSCF builds on the success of the Initiative To Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence. This includes the Gun and Gang Violence Action Fund - a five year $358.8 million investment announced in 2018 - that brings together federal, provincial and territorial supports to tackle the increase in gun-related violence and gang activity in Canada.

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Audrey Champoux
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Public Safety

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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