Quick evic­tions touted in fight against meth

Law al­lows land­lords to re­move ten­ants who pose a risk to oth­ers with five days’ no­tice

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS I MANITOBA - LARRY KUSCH larry.kusch@freep­ress.mb.ca

HE Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment is pro­mot­ing a lit­tle­known pro­vi­sion in provin­cial law that al­lows, in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances, for the quick evic­tion of ten­ants who com­mit il­le­gal acts, such as deal­ing drugs.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cliff Cullen said Fri­day the law al­lows a land­lord to evict ten­ants with only five days’ no­tice if they pose an im­me­di­ate risk to oth­ers. If the ten­ant dis­putes the ac­tion, the provin­cial res­i­den­tial ten­an­cies branch can sched­ule a hear­ing within five days.

“We want to make sure we em­power the com­mu­ni­ties to help us and to help

Tthe po­lice in terms of try­ing to erad­i­cate the il­licit drug (trade) here in Winnipeg,” Cullen told a news con­fer­ence in north Point Dou­glas, where ac­tivists have bat­tled drug deal­ers and slum land­lords.

“This is a neigh­bour­hood that has been cleaned up, and we ap­pre­ci­ate the good work that the com­mu­nity has done,” Cullen said.

The provin­cial gov­ern­ment has been un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to come up with so­lu­tions to com­bat what some call the “meth cri­sis.” Premier Brian Pal­lis­ter and other se­nior gov­ern­ment mem­bers have stressed that com­mu­nity ef­forts are needed as well.

Cullen said one tool is to dis­rupt drug deal­ers through timely evic­tion.

Long­time Point Dou­glas com­mu­nity ac­tivist Sel Bur­rows be­lieves quick evic­tions can be ef­fec­tive in com­bat­ing drug deal­ers. He said the po­lice ser­vice lacks the re­sources to deal with the sit­u­a­tion on its own.

“We have rec­og­nized from very early on that the abil­ity to evict hard drug deal­ers and se­ri­ous crim­i­nals has been a key part of what we’ve done,” Bur­rows told re­porters, as he stood along­side Cullen on Fri­day. He also urged the PC gov­ern­ment to de­velop pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures to bat­tle the meth scourge.

Point Dou­glas land­lord Gord Sims praised the PCs and new lead­er­ship at the res­i­den­tial ten­an­cies branch for their com­mit­ment to an ex­pe­dited evic­tion process.

At one time, it took months to get a hear­ing to oust a drug dealer, while the com­mu­nity and land­lord stood by help­lessly, he said. Those days are over, he added.

Sims said land­lords and com­mu­ni­ties should feel em­pow­ered by the gov­ern­ment’s new fo­cus. “You have just been given an ex­pe­dited eject but­ton for crim­i­nal be­hav­iour,” he said.

The prov­ince says any per­son can file a con­fi­den­tial re­port with the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s pub­lic safety in­ves­ti­ga­tions unit about prop­er­ties where threat­en­ing or il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties reg­u­larly take place, in­clud­ing un­law­ful drug use, child ex­ploita­tion or par­tic­i­pa­tion in a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the prov­ince can is­sue a warn­ing let­ter to the prop­erty owner, re­solve the prob­lem out of court or ap­ply for an or­der to close the prop­erty or re­move the ten­ants in­volved.

Since 2016, the in­ves­ti­ga­tions unit has re­sponded to 435 com­plaints about prop­er­ties with “chronic prob­lem­atic be­hav­iour,” a gov­ern­ment re­lease said. Of those, 425 were con­firmed to have had drug-re­lated ac­tiv­ity. Be­cause of such in­ves­ti­ga­tions, 373 prop­er­ties have been closed.


Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cliff Cullen (cen­tre) dis­cusses in­for­ma­tion for land­lords and ten­ants in Point Dou­glas on Fri­day with Gord Sims (left), a Point Dou­glas land­lord, and Sel Bur­rows, chair­man of the Point Dou­glas Res­i­dents Com­mit­tee.

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