News

Rental house raided again

RCMP raided a rental house on St. Anne Avenue on Wednesday for the fourth time in two years, and arrested five people. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
RCMP raided a rental house on St. Anne Avenue on Wednesday for the fourth time in two years, and arrested five people.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

A rental property in Port Haney, managed by a Maple Ridge councillor, was raided by police Wednesday for the fourth time in less than two years.

Five people were arrested at the heritage house, located at 22309 St. Anne Avenue, after Ridge Meadows RCMP executed a warrant to search for illegal drugs.

“It’s been hell for me,” said a man who lives next door and is frustrated that not enough is being done by property manager Coun. Al Hogarth, below, to address drug dealing at the property.

“It’s got to stop somewhere.”

No one from the District of Maple Ridge including Hogarth, Mayor Ernie Daykin or bylaw director Liz Holitzki returned a call for comment.

Following the raid, police seized heroin, another undetermined substance, which could either be crack cocaine or meth, and “other items connected to drug trafficking.”

Investigators released three people shortly after the raid, but drug trafficking charges are being recommended against a man and woman.

Built in 1938 by Joseph Turnock, the Cape Cod-style home has been repeatedly raided by police since April 2012.

In addition to four search warrants, Ridge Meadows RCMP have had 11 calls for service to the property since then, and 10 files on people connected to the house.

Drugs were seized during raids of the house in 2013 and 2012.

With costs for a RCMP corporal at $64.59 per hour and a constable $61.36 per hour, the tally for a drug bust can total tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Supt. Dave Fleugel says a search warrant for a small property will use between four and six officers. And that’s just to search the property. If you tack on the costs of surveillance or a SWAT team, the costs can balloon to  much more.

“We are definitely concerned about that. I have instructed the supervisor of the unit to start looking at a forfeiture application,” said Fleugel.

Under B.C.’s civil forfeiture process, the province can seize a property that is used for crime or purchased with the proceeds of crime.

“We have a strong desire to ensure the behaviour that’s conducted out of that dwelling is completely stopped,” said Fleugel.

“The houses and people who continue to peddle drugs in our community are one of our top priority. The fact that we’ve hit the house multiple times reinforces our resolve to shut it down. Whatever process we need to do to get it forfeited or condemned, we want to do and then move on to the next drug house.”

Hogarth has previously stated he is unable to evict the tenants and their unwanted guests.

“To be honest with you, the Residential Tenancy Act really does not help much,” he said last year following a drug bust.

“That’s my frustration, because I have to follow all the rules and regulations, and even by doing that, you are still left out to dry.”

Since the tenants and their guests pay little attention to repeated eviction notices or written warnings, Hogarth said his hands are tied.

However the Residential Tenancy branch believes landlords can avoid such situations by properly screening tenants.

If eviction notices are disobeyed, the landlord can obtain a court order and hire bailiffs to remove tenants.

The properties in question are part of a rezoning application for a condo development.

Plans for the house that was raided are that it be restored as part of a heritage agreement with the district, but two adjacent properties are slated to be torn down.

Last November, Hogarth told council the owner would be getting a demolition permit for the properties.

Four months later, the houses are still standing.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie tried to speed up the demolitions last November and thought the properties were being dealt with.

“I have no reason to drive down there,” said Ashlie, explaining why she did not realize the properties were not demolished last winter.

“I am going to make the assumption that there were obstacles to why nothing has happened. I want to get the full story from staff as to why this is not being followed through on.”

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