Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jul 2007
Source: Victoria Standard, The (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Victoria Standard
Author: Jim Morrow


The Director of Public relations for the Safer Communities and 
Neighbourhoods Act, Fred Sandford, made a presentation to County 
Council on June 25th.

Explaining how the Act works and what it is intended to do, Mr. 
Sandford said, "The Act targets illegal drug use, prostitution, the 
unlawful sale of liquor and illegal gaming.

"This legislation gives citizens the tools to take back their 
communities by reporting problem residences and businesses. It holds 
property owners accountable for threatening or disturbing activities 
regularly taking place on their property," Mr. Sandford said.

Unlike the criminal code, the Act allows for complete anonymity for 
the complainant.

When the Public Safety Investigative Unit is called at 
1-877-357-2337, the complainant will not be involved in any 
investigative or court proceedings that may result from the complaint.

The Public Safety Investigation Section was established to 
investigate and enforce the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act.

"Investigators are experienced police officers," Mr. Sandford told 
Council, " who work closely with local law enforcement officers and 
with property owners and landowners to evict people who are involved 
in threatening or disturbing activities." He added that the Safer 
Communities and Neighbourhoods Act overrides the Residential Tenancy Act.

The investigative unit will collect evidence of threatening or 
disturbing behaviour and present the evidence in court with 
affidavits from the whistleblowers. The judgement is made not on the 
burden of proof but on a balance of possibilities.

It should be noted that the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act 
is not criminal legislation designed to punish offenders but is 
intended to force those participating in illegal activities out of 
the neighborhood.

To this end a Community Safety Order or as a last resort a Closure 
Order is issued and a large poster outlining the Order is affixed to 
the building in question .

The order the owners to take steps to stop the problem and bars the 
tenants from continuing the illegal or threatening activities.

The Act has been criticized for just moving a problem from one area to another.

Warden Wayne Budge pointed out hat someone who does not like his 
neighbour my use the Act to be vindictive.

Mr. Sandford responded that the investigative unit can determine if 
this is the case very quickly when it attempts to collect its evidence.

Two other Provinces Manitoba and Saskatchewan also have similar 
legislation which has proven to be quite successful.
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