The Yukon Department of Justice has evicted a person from a McIntyre home owned by the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
It’s the first time that the Yukon’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act has been used to remove a tenant from a property owned by a Yukon First Nation.
The Oct. 15 eviction order was issued after a six-month investigation, said Jeff Ford, director of public safety and investigations for the Yukon Department of Justice.
While this is the first time that someone has been formally evicted from First Nations land under the act, it’s not the first time that investigators have co-ordinated with a First Nation government, he said.
Complaints about the property in the McIntyre neighbourhood date back to 2009.
After talking to neighbours and surveilling the home over the last several months, investigators concluded that the tenant’s actions were having an “adverse effect on the community,” the threshold for laying an eviction under SCAN.
“What we saw was behaviours consistent with the distribution of drugs and habitual use on the property,” said Ford.
In enforcing the eviction, Kwanlin Dun made efforts to offer supports and find other accommodations for the tenant, said Ford.
“It’s hoped that in going forward with enforcement action, but also in parallel with the social assistance and supports, that the activity doesn’t continue somewhere else in the community,” he said.
Often when SCAN investigators issue an eviction or a warning they meet with a tenant and make an effort to connect them with help.
“Sometimes a social worker, or other worker from a different agency, will even attend with us when we meet with the tenants,” said Ford. “It’s a way of providing some kind of path to a more positive direction.”
While the SCAN legislation is designed first and foremost to protect the community, it also often helps get people facing an eviction back on the straight and narrow, said Ford.
“We have seen persons that have been involved in SCAN action actually take that positive change after receiving a warning or being evicted from a property,” he said. “Sometimes it’s enough for them to say, ‘This is something that I can’t do and I need counselling and other supports to carry on.’”
Though the evidence gathered during a SCAN investigation can be used by law enforcement to lay more serious criminal charges, it’s rarely done. No criminal charges have been filed in this case.
“To a certain extent, it’s a positive way of trying to address the harms that come from this activity, in that the person is offered an opportunity, after being either warned or forced to vacate, to take a more positive direction in their lives, one that doesn’t leave them with criminal charges,” said Ford.
Since SCAN was passed in 2006, investigators have received 421 complaints. From those, more than 30 formal warnings were issued and 37 landlord sanctioned evictions carried out, as well as one community safety order that had the owner of a home in Porter Creek evicted.
As of press time, no one from the Kwanlin Dun’s Justice Department could be reached for comment.
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