Community Safety Amendment Act

Bill 13, the Community Safety Amendment Act received Royal Assent on October 31, and will likely be brought into force in 2020. Legislation follows the 2013 Community Safety Act, which was based on Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) legislation implemented in six other provinces and territories but never brought into force.

SCAN legislation creates a civil remedy solution to address properties where specified criminal and nuisance activities are taking place that negatively affect a community. In BC legislation will allow members of the public to submit confidential complaints to the Director of Community Safety (appointed under the Act). The Director will have the authority to send a warning letter, resolve an issue through “informal action” or, failing all else, apply to the court for a community safety order.

A community safety order can require someone to vacate a property, prohibit an individual from entering/occupying a property, terminate a lease agreement, close a property from any use or occupation (for a maximum of 90 days), or “include any other provision the court considers necessary to make the community safety order effective.”

The Province has indicated that amendments were made to reduce administrative burden and address low-level gang and firearm violence. UBCM has previously raised several concerns with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General related to a lack of consultation earlier in the process to amend legislation, provincial resource allocation, and potential impact on local government (e.g. bylaw officers).

Local governments will not be asked to pay for costs associated with this new law enforcement tool. The Act will be enforced by the Community Safety Unit (CSU), a new 44 member provincial unit also responsible for addressing illegal cannabis operations. The CSU endeavours to maintain a close working relationship with police, and has the authority to enter into information-sharing agreements with public bodies (including local governments).

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