Skip to main content

Abandoned houses of Flint, Michigan Oct. 10, 2012.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

British Columbians dealing with neighbourhood crack shacks and other problem properties will soon be able to file anonymous complaints to a new agency rather than police.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said the yet-to-be named agency would be created as part of legislation she was to introduce Thursday.

"Other jurisdictions have this legislation and it's time British Columbia joined that group of provinces," Bond said, adding premises that provide illegal services such as prostitution will also be targeted.

Story continues below advertisement

"This will be a civil process so it doesn't deal with criminal issues, and it would need to be demonstrated that the behaviour is repetitive."

Officials at the agency will contact the property owner and residents about complaints and charges could result if the issues are not resolved, Bond said.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich said chronic offenders often live in problem locations that can make an entire neighbourhood feel chaotic and unsafe.

"The crime rates we are trying to drive down can be deeply affected by one or two problem premises in a community," Chief Rich said.

"We, for example, have a goal, as part of our strategic plan in Abbotsford, of ending problem premises within three months of realizing that we have that problem," he said.

"But I can tell you also that we're failing. We succeed in most of the premises that we go after but we run up against blocks where the premise is owned, for example, by a person who's problematic or doesn't wish to solve the problem."

Ms. Bond said she will also introduce legislation to make it easier for volunteer agencies that work with vulnerable children and adults to get criminal record checks on their volunteers.

Story continues below advertisement

She said volunteers are often required to undergo more than one record check to serve a number of organizations at a cost of up to $40 each time but the checks will be free under the amended legislation.

Volunteers with non-profits that opt into the proposed program would have to consent to sharing the results of their criminal record checks, allowing them to move more easily between agencies.

"We hope to have it up and running by end of November," Ms. Bond said.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to