EDITORIAL: Drug violence is Semiahmoo Peninsula’s problem, too

Drug turf wars, and the accompanying violence, extend beyond Whalley and Newton.

White Rock/South Surrey is considered a peninsula – not an island.

Some residents and even some elected officials seem to like to suggest that drug turf-wars – and their spin-off violence – are a mid- to north-Surrey problem.

The fact – both historically and currently – is that the trade and the targeted hits of competitors and enemies are our problem, too.

We didn’t really need the news of a drug-lab bust on White Rock’s Parker Street earlier this month – during which police seized several firearms, $7,000 in cash and a stockpile of illegal drugs – to confirm that such heinous activities are on our doorsteps.

We couldn’t have been that surprised when the shots fired into a house in South Surrey, also this month, were quickly categorized by Surrey RCMP as part of a larger pattern of targeted incidents related to the low-level drug trade.

The shooting death of Corey Bennett in a South Surrey drug house in 2013 was only one in a long line of drug-traffic related fatalities that have occurred in our own community.

Just six months earlier, 28-year-old Craig Widdifield was shot to death in a busy shopping centre parking lot in South Surrey, near a toy store and coffee shop.

Violence stemming from the drug trade and gang lifestyle is not a new problem, and it is certainly not limited to the region’s lower-income neighbourhoods.

While it’s true that a large portion of the shootings we hear about on an alarmingly regular basis have been clustered between Newton and Whalley, to think our community is far enough removed from the mayhem that it’s “not our problem” is naive.

We may not have the gunfire ringing out in our neighbourhoods as often as our north Surrey counterparts, but recent events reveal the drugs, weapons and criminals are here, and likely have been for some time.

We have heard our city leaders time and time again tell us that the public is not at risk, that our streets are safe and that the spate of wild-west-style gun violence plaguing our region will pass – that we need to “have patience.”

But if our community stands a chance at fighting back against this reckless disregard for safety, law and order, we must recognize it is as much the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s problem as it is everyone else’s.