A Yukon Supreme Court judge has ordered the closure of a duplex in the McIntyre subdivision following a five-month investigation into illegal activities at the building, putting an end to years of complaints about its tenants from Kwanlin Dun First Nation citizens.
Justice Randall Wong issued the 90-day order last week, which came into effect at midnight on Tuesday morning.
Two female residents were evicted as a result of the order but criminal charges have not been laid against them.
Partying, constant visitors, intimidation of community members and drug trafficking were among the concerns presented to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods director over the past few years.
It’s the culmination of a SCAN unit investigation that originally began in 2012, but was shelved because it couldn’t gather enough evidence the duplex was being used for drug trafficking.
A new investigation began in Dec. 2014.
In the past five months, SCAN staff recorded 150 hours of video surveillance that showed 62 suspicious visits to the house, and 29 hours of live footage surveillance that showed 40 visits, according to Caitlin Kerwin, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice.
The property had become a safety concern to the community due to the habitual sale and use of prohibited substances including cocaine, oxycodone, ecstasy, steroids and morphine, according to court documents filed by lawyer Tracy-Anne McPhee.
Complaints spanned several years. A toddler once found a crack pipe near the house, and someone once complained about an unrestrained pit bull on the property.
Last year, a KDFN employee entered the home to clean the stove and chimney and was pierced by a hypodermic needle, according to Kerwin.
One of the tenants even asked the First Nation to install a peephole in the wood chute door located at the back of the house. The request was denied.
SCAN staff issued a verbal warning to the tenants in 2012, when the unit had an open investigation, but it went unheeded.
At the time, a “belligerent” resident of the home was verbally abusive towards the SCAN officers, Kerwin said.
When the investigation resumed last year, the unit determined that despite the warnings, efforts of law enforcement and the KDFN administration, the property still remained a source of recurring drug activity.
The property is located two blocks away from an elementary school and four blocks from a daycare facility.
A lawyer representing the unit was in court last week to present evidence of its findings, and a petition seeking the order against the respondent and property owner, Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
“All of the individuals observed during the investigation to be involved in the illegal activities taking place at the property have a history of criminal activity, including convictions for drug and violence related offences,” according to the petition filed in court.
Surveillance footage revealed that individuals were making very short trips to the duplex, “often for less than a minute,” at all hours of the day.
Although unrelated to the investigation, SCAN surveillance cameras have been stolen in the area in the past, and one staff vehicle has been burned.
The incidents were put on record to indicate how difficult surveillance could be in a small, close-knit community, said Kerwin.
According to the SCAN act, a judge may make a community safety order if there is enough evidence to suggest the property is used on a regular basis for a specified purpose, and is having adverse effects on the neighbourhood.
While criminal legislation requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that an accused person committed a specific crime at a specific time and place, orders under SCAN only require evidence that illegal activity is taking place and harming the community on a balance of probabilities.
Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill said the community supports the order.
It’s only the second time a community safety order has been issued on a First Nation’s traditional land since the legislation took effect in 2006, she added.
“We’ve heard from our citizens that their number one issue is safety, and the illegal activities that take place within our community,” she said.
“We don’t tolerate this kind of activity. Our citizens are becoming more and more aware and responsive to this kind of thing.
“I’m hoping people see this as a positive move and continue to work towards a safer community.”
The order ceases to be in effect on Aug. 3 at 4 p.m., after which the First Nation gets the duplex back.
Bill said substantial damage had been done to the building, so the First Nation plans on cleaning it up before making it available for rent once again.
Last year, 55 complaints were reported to SCAN, with detailed investigations leading to evictions or formal warnings in nine cases.
Contact Myles Dolphin at email@example.com