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Public safety minister says new law targets gang-run drug and crime houses

Last Updated Apr 5, 2019 at 6:29 am PDT

FILE photo - Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the Community Safety Act will make it easier for neighbours to report a drug lab or other nuisance buildings. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Properties linked to gun, gang and drug activities are now on the British Columbia government’s hit list.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth introduced legislation that empowers people to report alleged illegal activities in their neighbourhoods and gives authorities more clout to shut down those sites.

He says the Community Safety Act, if passed, would allow people to submit confidential complaints to a government unit that will investigate and enforce the act.

“It allows for resolution of some of the issues around these kinds of properties that don’t involve having to go to court because right now, this is very frustrating for a lot of communities,” Farnworth says. “They know that habitual, illegal activity is taking place and they haven’t had the tools to be able to deal with them.”

Farnworth says the unit will collaborate with neighbours and take escalating steps that would include ending tenancy agreements and closing the property for up to 90 days.

He says people living near so-called crack shacks and other dangerous and nuisance properties have been waiting years for help.

“An enforcement unit will have the ability to do a very fast, very quick investigation working with local government to be able to stop whatever illegal activity is taking place,” he adds.

Farnworth says Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Yukon already have legislation similar to B.C.’s proposed Community Safety Act.

He says this legislation is similar to something passed six years ago by the former Liberal government, but it never became law.