Quick evictions touted in fight against meth
Law allows landlords to remove tenants who pose a risk to others with five days’ notice
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.