The City of Surrey has sent a cease-and-desist letter to an online T-shirt retailer that’s been mocking the Metro Vancouver municipality’s gang problem with slogans like “Better safe than Surrey.”

The city claims the website is violating its copyright by parodying its official logo as well as its slogan, “The future starts here,” which is lampooned on a T-shirt that reads “The future ends here.”

But manager Don Pitcairn insists he loves the city, despite its lesser qualities, and is trying to deliver a serious message with the apparel.

“You can take this shirt a lot of different ways but the actual message behind this shirt is anti-gang and anti-gun violence,” Pitcairn said. “Because while I may be proud of Surrey, I’m not very proud of all the people getting shot on the streets of Surrey.”

In Pictures: Surrey T-shirt parodies anger city

Pitcairn also said he believes he’s tweaked the Surrey logo just enough to avoid actual copyright infringement.

Another shirt features the city’s name surrounded by six bullet holes, in reference to the notorious Surrey Six murders, but not all of them cast such a negative light.

The website also sells sweatshirts that say “SRYCTY” and jerseys and hats that simply feature the city’s name embroidered.

Pitcairn said he decided to start the website after noticing how much more city-specific apparel was available for sale in Vancouver than Surrey, despite how rapidly the suburb has been grown in recent years.

“Surrey used to be the butt of jokes, there used to be a lot of derogatory comments about the people that live here. But over time, Surrey’s developing. It’s now the second-largest city in B.C. and eventually it will be the largest,” Pitcairn said. “People are now becoming quite proud of living in Surrey.”

The city has reportedly denied taking umbrage with the content of the shirts other than the use of the logo.