From the Chilliwack Progress Archives: Welfare system blamed for rise in bad behaviour

In 1961, Chilliwack residents get riled up over a rise in juvenile delinquency and malicious damage.

Since first publishing on April 16, 1891 the Chilliwack Progress has been the newspaper of record in Chilliwack.

One hundred and 28 years later the Progress remains the longest continuously published newspaper in British Columbia. With the addition of a thriving digital operation anchored by theprogress.com, the Progress delivers more news to more people than ever before.

‘From the Progress Archives’ is a journey into the past, to see what was making news decades ago.

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Headline – Petitioners protest vandalism, crime

Date – January 24, 1961

A petition signed by well over 400 Chilliwack residents protesting the amount of juvenile delinquency and malicious damage is being sent to the Attorney General’s Department by municipal council.

The petition, which was read to the council yesterday, expresses “deep concern” at:

– Juvenile delinquency.

– The “apparent and unwarranted” increase of malicious damage to persons and property.

– The allegedly “loose” manner in which social assistance and welfare is being administered.

Declares the petition: “We respectfully request that an immediate and thorough investigation be conducted.”

Copies have been sent to the city council, Hon. Kenneth Kiernan (MLA for Chilliwack-Fraser Valley, MP Harold Hicks and Hon. Wesley Black, minister of health and welfare.

Said Coun. Harold Clarke: “I think the Attorney General’s office in Victoria has the power to carry out an investigation. If people are really concerned, we should do something about it.”

Pointing to the rising problem of juvenile delinquency in the Chilliwack district, he charged, “This is a direct result of the manner in which social assistance is administered. It’s destroying the whole moral fibre of our nation.”

A spokesman for the four or five men who circulated the petition in the city, the fringe area and other parts of the district, commented that it took three days to get the petition signed.

“We wouldn’t have any any trouble getting thousands of signatures,” he commented. “The petition met with just about 100 per cent approval. Out of 200 people I contacted, I met only four people who didn’t want to sign.”

He explained that his group got together and decided that “more should be done than just talking about the situation.”

“Personally,” he said. “I don’t want to point a finger at any of our civic administrators. It’s just an unhealthy situation that exists in the community. I don’t think that the answer will be found overnight.”

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