‘Tools are there’

Province re­minds land­lords: Crim­i­nal ten­ants can be kicked out in 5 days

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - SCOTT BILLECK Winnnipeg Sun sbil­leck@post­media.com Twit­ter: @scot­tbil­leck

The Pal­lis­ter gov­ern­ment says its work­ing with com­mu­nity lead­ers and land­lords in Win­nipeg’s Point Dou­glas neigh­bour­hood in an ef­fort to com­bat drugs and other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity that has plagued the com­mu­nity.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cliff Cullen said re­sources are avail­able to help ten­ants and land­lords, in­clud­ing leg­is­la­tion that al­lows the lat­ter to evict those in­volved in crime.

“The tools are there, we just want to make sure the pub­lic is aware of those tools that are there,” Cullen said at the an­nounce­ment at 113 Prince Ed­ward Street. “As a gov­ern­ment, we are here to work with the com­mu­ni­ties. We want to be tough on crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, we want to be tough on crim­i­nals and we want to do ev­ery­thing we can to make sure that crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity and crim­i­nals are not wel­come in our neigh­bour­hoods.”

Sel Bur­rows, chair of the Point Dou­glas Res­i­dents Com­mit­tee, said the neigh­bour­hood has done well to make it dif­fi­cult for gangs and drug deal­ers sur­vive in the com­mu­nity. Bur­rows said through the city’s by-law en­force­ment, they have also made the area dif­fi­cult for bad land­lords to op­er­ate.

“As you go around Point Dou­glas, you won’t see many slum houses,” Bur­rows said. “The key to hav­ing a healthy com­mu­nity is hav­ing the abil­ity to dis­rupt the bad guys, dis­rupt the meth deal­ers.”

Bur­rows said for years, the com­mu­nity tried to erad­i­cate crack houses. Now they dream of how nice they were com­pared to the dam­age meth houses are do­ing to the com­mu­nity.

“We need to move fast and get peo­ple out very fast if we want good, healthy fam­i­lies to stay in the com­mu­nity,” Bur­rows said.

Bur­rows said the houses that were in the back­ground of Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment used to be among the worst for drug and crime ac­tiv­ity six or seven years ago.

“It was just chaos,” he said. Gord Sims, a land­lord, ended up buy­ing the prop­er­ties and be­gan get­ting the crime out of the neigh­bour­hood.

“Land­lords, com­mu­nity, you should feel em­pow­ered by to­day’s an­nounce­ment,” Sims said. “You’ve just been given an ex­pe­dited eject but­ton for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.”

The leg­is­la­tion has been in ef­fect for quite some time, but Cullen said Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment was to get the in­for­ma­tion out to the pub­lic who may not have been aware it is there.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment, ten­ants en­gaged in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity can be evicted with only five days no­tice and a dis­puted claim can be sched­uled for a hear­ing be­fore the Res­i­den­tial Ten­den­cies Branch within five days.

Bur­rows said once that mes­sage gets out, it can have a huge so­ci­o­log­i­cal im­pact on peo­ple who think about deal­ing.

“It’s not just the nar­row fact, it’s the spread of the in­flu­ence of the evic­tions,” he said.

Con­fi­den­tial re­ports can be filed to Man­i­toba Jus­tice’s Pub­lic Safety In­ves­ti­ga­tions (PSI) unit about prop­er­ties sus­pected of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion can be launched and at its con­clu­sion, 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, gov­ern­ment says the PSI unit has re­sponded to 435 com­plaints about prop­er­ties with chronic, prob­lem­atic be­hav­iour. Of those, 425 were con­firmed to have drug-re­lated ac­tiv­ity. Be­cause of PSI in­ves­ti­ga­tions, 375 prop­er­ties were closed.

Bur­rows said po­lice as­sis­tance alone won’t solve the is­sue, adding that they are over­loaded with work enough as it is.

“When we first started in Point Dou­glas 12 years ago, that’s what we did and noth­ing hap­pened,” Bur­row said.

Sims said while the laws might have been there in the past, it’s about the ex­e­cu­tion of those laws that’s made the dif­fer­ence. He said that in pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments and gov­er­nances of the RTB, it took months to get so­lu­tions.

“We have turned the page, that’s what’s bet­ter to­day,” Sims said.

KEVIN KING/WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cliff Cullen says re­sources are avail­able to help ten­ants and land­lords.

WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

Sel Bur­rows is chair­man of the Point Dou­glas Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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