All occupants of a Kopper King trailer have a week to leave before authorities close it off for 90 days in an effort to disrupt the drug trafficking activity stemming from the property.
The temporary eviction and closure are the result of a community safety order granted by Yukon Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Duncan following a request from the territory’s director of public safety and investigations.
In her decision, delivered in a Whitehorse courtroom the morning of March 22, Duncan said she found that the trailer located at 81 – 4 Prospector Rd. and owned by Arielle Devilliers was being habitually used for drug-related activity, and that the activity was having an adverse impact on the community.
Duncan also found that Devilliers, who is currently residing in Yellowknife and rents out the trailer, was at least aware of the drug activity taking place at her property and either would not or could not stop it.
Any occupants of the trailer will have seven days to leave the property before it’s closed off for 90 days. Devilliers or someone acting on her behalf will be able to enter the property for maintenance and repairs, but only with the director’s permission. She will also have to pay the Yukon government any “reasonable costs” associated with closing the trailer or keeping it closed.
Under the Safer Communities And Neighbourhoods (SCAN) Act, the territory’s director of public safety and investigations can apply to the court for a community safety order after receiving a complaint. The act and process of obtaining an order are separate from the criminal justice system and work through the civil system instead.
The case was the third time a request for a community safety order has come before the courts in the Yukon.
Duncan’s decision came after a roughly hour-and-a-half hearing the afternoon of March 21.
The hearing was originally scheduled to take place on March 6, but Duncan had postponed it after Devilliers, who attended court via phone from Yellowknife, said she had already evicted the tenant from the trailer and that only her mother now had the keys.
Devilliers said multiple times throughout that hearing that she did not understand what was happening in court and needed more time to file documents proving her side of the story. She opposed the granting of the order.
However, Devilliers did not answer her phone despite five attempts by the court clerk to reach her on March 21, and had not filed any materials to the court.
Duncan allowed the hearing to proceed without her, stating that Devilliers had agreed to the date and time at the previous hearing.
Lawyer Kelly McGill, who was representing the director of public safety and investigations, also said she had not had any contact with Devilliers since March 6.
In her submissions, McGill said there was “ample” evidence, including affidavits from SCAN investigators, the Whitehorse Fire Department’s fire safety officer and a RCMP officer, that showed the trailer was being habitually used for drug activity.
Two people lodged what would become a total of five complaints to SCAN about the activity at the trailer and a neighbouring one, McGill said, the first one being in July 2017.
The second complaint, lodged in July 2018, triggered a six-month-long investigation by SCAN, which largely consisted of surveillance operations at the trailer.
The activity flagged in the complaints and observed during surveillance included vehicle traffic to the trailers at “all hours,” the presence of several people previously convicted of drug trafficking and someone smoking crack cocaine outside.
There were also an usually high number of short visits to the trailer, McGill said, with vehicles coming from all over Whitehorse — in one instance, a person was seen arriving at and then leaving the trailer in a taxi in 30 seconds.
While the “vast majority” of complaints to SCAN are resolved without court orders, Devilliers was not approached with an alternative, McGill said, because she was “quite likely involved” in the activity herself.
McGill said Devilliers was at least aware of the drug activity, noting that she was seen at the trailer throughout the surveillance period. She was also present following an arson, when someone lit the trailer’s wooden deck on fire, and heard her tenant speaking frankly to a police officer about whether there would be any retaliatory action.
Besides the arson, the drug activity at the trailer was having other negative impacts on the residential, densely-populated neighbourhood, McGill said. Complainants reported being woken at night by the sound of vehicles’ doors slamming or loud music and feeling frustrated about the situation. The property is also located near school bus and public transit bus stops, and behind a commercial area with a gas station, stores and a pub.
Responding to a question from Duncan, McGill acknowledged that there was nothing stopping the people involved in the activity from moving their operations to another part of the city, but that stopping all drug activity in the city was not the point of seeking the order.
“No one’s under any illusion (that) we’re going to solve drug trafficking with this application,” she said.
“The goal (of the order) is not to solve drug trafficking in out community, but it is to disrupt and provide relief.”
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org