It’s been a perennial problem — drug houses operating in neighbourhoods.
Sometimes these operations have been going for months, or even years, before the RCMP can gather enough evidence to act. It’s been one of those frustrating conundrums: everyone in the neighbourhood knows what’s going on, but that common knowledge isn’t enough to satisfy legal requirements, which are understandably, and even desirably stringent.
But in the meantime, a drug house can contaminate a whole area, bringing with it associated crime like theft, graffiti, violence, and littering of drug paraphernalia and filth. Neighbours are left feeling helpless and angry.
We applaud the City of Duncan for their move to bring in a new bylaw aimed at driving out drug houses. On initial inspection, some of the provisions look especially promising.
It puts quite a lot of responsibility onto landlords. No longer will absentee owners be allowed to feel comfortable with the status quo as long as the cheque clears every month. Owners could face steep bills if the property they own is being used as a drug house, including having the residence deemed unsuitable for habitation, a notice put on the property’s title alerting future buyers of the house’s past, and the requirement to clean the property up to acceptable safety standards at their own expense.
This will certainly provide an impetus for landlords to keep better track of what’s going on at their rentals. For the most part, we find it unlikely that if the whole neighbourhood knows the place is a drug house, that the landlord is in the dark. And if they are, they shouldn’t be.
The bylaw provisions should also help to keep a property that’s been used as a drug house from going right back to being a drug house again within weeks, with perhaps just someone else’s name on a rental agreement.
While alone the new bylaw isn’t going to singlehandedly solve the problem, it’s one more tool that can help to rid our city of this scourge — drug dealers preying on our community’s vulnerable.