The Yukon government has responded to a petition claiming that the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Celia Wright filed the petition on Jan. 7 after she, as well as her partner and eight children, were evicted from a rented property near the Carcross cutoff with five days’ notice.
The SCAN Act allows the Yukon government to resolve complaints of alleged illegal activity at a property by serving a five-day notice of eviction, regardless of any existing tenancy agreements.
Wright argued in her original petition that the act is “draconian, abusive and unconstitutional.”
The SCAN eviction was rescinded on Jan. 11, with Wright’s landlord instead serving a two-month eviction notice. Wright refiled the petition, arguing that the SCAN Act remains a violation of civil liberties.
The Yukon government’s Feb. 19 response argues that Wright now lacks standing, because the live issue died when her SCAN notice was rescinded. The government claims that Wright “lacks a real stake or genuine interest” in the public interest of the issue, continuing that “this litigation is not a reasonable and effective way to bring the issue before the courts.”
The government accuses Wright of mischaracterizing the circumstances around her eviction and downplaying the effects of her residency on her neighbourhood.
It claims that the SCAN unit received numerous complaints of drug trafficking activity on the property between 2016 and 2020, launching an investigation.
Between 2017 and 2020, RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency completed a multi-year investigation leading to several search warrants, including one at Wright’s residence.
A search of the property on Nov. 4 yielded an amount of suspected cocaine, a large sum of cash, a loaded handgun and stolen property, RCMP reported.
Wright and her partner have since been charged with drug trafficking offences, which are currently before the courts. They were evicted on Dec. 9.
In Wright’s original petition, she said she contacted her landlord immediately after her eviction. Her landlord said he was coerced into agreeing to a SCAN eviction and threatened with a court appearance as an uncooperative witness, the petition said.
The Yukon government’s response denies these allegations.
“The option for a landlord-assisted eviction was presented to (the landlord) and he agreed, indicating that he wished to have the property evicted as soon as possible,” the response says.
“The amended petition alleges … that the SCAN unit intimidated and coerced (the landlord) into issuing notice under SCAN. Those allegations are not true and are specifically denied by the director.”
The response continues to allege that Wright mischaracterized the circumstances around her eviction. In the petition, Wright says she was given five days’ notice to leave the property, although it was mid-winter and she was unlikely to find another home for her family in such a short period of time.
The government’s response alleges that Wright was informed “that a reasonable extension to the five days’ notice would be provided upon the request,” and that information was confirmed in an email later that day.
The SCAN eviction was later extended to Jan. 30. The landlord rescinded the notice on Jan. 11, instead terminating her tenancy effective March 31.
Affidavits have not yet been filed on this matter. The Yukon government’s counsel estimated a single day of proceedings will be required for the eventual application.
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at firstname.lastname@example.org