Chilliwack’s restorative justice group gets $31,500

Recognized as restorative justice leaders, the Chilliwack group holds offenders accountable to victims and the community.

Chilliwack’s Restorative Justice group got most of the money it was requesting for 2013 under the city’s Community Development Initiatives funding.

Council approved a total of $31,500 on Tuesday — the same amount it gave last year to the Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Assocation, and just short of the $34,000 the group was requesting.

“We were trying to slowly increase the CDI funding so we could grow our program,” said CRJYAA executive director Kim McLandress, after the council meeting.

“We’re extremely thankful for support the city provides to us.”

About a third of the funding is in cash, she said, while the city also covers in-kind costs for office space on Wellington Avenue, utilities and supplies.

Recognized as restorative leaders in the province, the local group has been holding offenders accountable to their victims and the community since 1998. It assists them in making amends and repairing the harm they’ve done. As an alternative to the formal criminal justice system, restorative justice provides support to both victims and offenders, allowing an incident to be resolved directly between the affected parties — without going to court.

“We are listed as the third busiest program in British Columbia which has to do with our strong partnerships with RCMP and businesses within the community,” McLandress wrote in the funding application.

In 2011 they opened 159 files, and more than 3,800 people have benefited from the program since it started.

“We are proud to note that since the inception we have assisted in the payment of over $100,000 in restitution from offenders to victims,” she wrote.

Referrals come from the RCMP, the community, and most recently from ICBC’s fraud

department. They work closely with the Chilliwack School District, Chilliwack Community Services, Ann Davis Transition Society, Chilliwack Alcohol and Drug Prevention Services, Ministry for Children and Families, and a number of other local resource agencies.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Coun. Jason Lum about the decision by council to approve the funding.

It’s noted that restorative programs provide huge savings and benefits to the communities they serve, both financially and socially, he said.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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