Legislation Takes Aim at Problem Properties

The Government of British Columbia has introduced legislation that would see the creation of a provincial unit to investigate and work with property owners to curb threatening and dangerous activities.  The Community Safety Act comes in response to a resolution endorsed by UBCM's membership (2009-B66, “Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods”) calling for legislative improvements to address public safety issues resulting from problem addresses such as drug houses.

The act will target the sites of specific criminal and nuisance activities, including drug production and trafficking, prostitution, unlawful liquor sales, child abuse, possession of unlawful weapons or explosives, and activities conducted by or on behalf of gangs and organized crime.

On substantiating a complaint, the unit will take steps to force the property owner to address identified issues. Where problems persist, the unit may apply in civil court for a community safety order, which may bar certain individuals from the property or close it for up to 90 days.

“This legislation is about giving people a simple, timely, safe way to report properties of concern and help make their streets safer,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond.   “Obviously, we still want people to report criminal activity to the police. But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, even if police do make arrests, a changing cast of characters means the problems just continue at a particular address. This proposed legislation will fill a gap, enhancing public safety by forcing landlords to deal with chronic, illegal and dangerous behaviour on their properties.”

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