Drug houses pose pernicious problem

Because one thing is clear, getting rid of these unwanted neighbours is no easy, quick or straightforward matter.

We feel for Ron Stasynec.

After hearing from both local government and the RCMP on the significant challenges involved in trying to shut down drug houses in our Cowichan Valley communities, we can’t help but sympathize with the neighbours of these problem dwellings.

Because one thing is clear, getting rid of these unwanted neighbours is no easy, quick or straightforward matter.

At first glance it seems bizarre that the RCMP would suggest  that North Cowichan, or any other municipality’s bylaws, would be a way to shut down a crack house. Isn’t that what our criminal code is for?

But we do see the logic of attacking the problem from every possible angle and if the only way to get at the homeowner or tenant is to declare the house a nuisance property, then that’s what should be done.

The goal is to force the problem person out of the neighbourhood. Ideally, that would be by shutting down the drug-dealing operation and charging and convicting those responsible.

Neighbours, understandably, just want these people gone.

They don’t want their quiet to be disrupted by people driving up to the house all the time. They don’t want sketchy individuals hanging around, vandalizing neighbours’ homes. They don’t want paraphernalia proliferating on their sidewalks and lawns. They don’t want people high on drugs wandering or driving around the neighbourhood.

More than just a run-of-the-mill bad neighbour, drug houses compromise the safety of the whole area.

What seems most clear is that there needs to be a better way to deal with drug houses in our communities.

The current system can leave people to get increasingly frustrated and angry over a span of months and even possibly years.

Perhaps changes that would be able to hold landlords more accountable for tenants who deal drugs, along with more ability on a landlord’s part to evict the bad apples. Perhaps a warning system followed by property confiscation if landlords fail to take action.

What we have now is inadequate, and regular folks are paying the price.