THUNDER BAY – Alberta has the “Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods” program which allows the Alberta Sheriffs to close down houses or locations which are causing problems in communities across the province.
Ontario it appears has similar powers, but not as formally as Alberta’s SCAN program.
Stephen Warner, a spokesperson for Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones tells NNL, “The Province provides funding support for police services on key community safety initiatives. For example, the Community Safety and Policing grant helps police tackles crimes such as human trafficking, and domestic and sexual violence. As part of the grant programs offered through the Ministry of the Solicitor General, more than $200 million is available for police services across Ontario.
“Policing in Ontario is a shared responsibility between the province, municipalities, and police services boards. Municipalities are responsible for ensuring adequate and effective policing services. Police services and Chiefs of Police have the authority to use the tools and resources they deem necessary to ensure community safety in the jurisdictions they serve.”
“We encourage police services to pursue innovative and cutting edge methods to ensuring community safety when applying for provincial grant programs. We have confidence in police services to make the appropriate decisions and take the necessary steps to keep their communities safe, as well as maintain trust and accountability,” adds Warner.
Additionally, the Attorney General may seek forfeiture of property, including real property, by commencing a proceeding under the Civil Remedies Act, 2001.
Warner, speaking for the Ministry states, “The Attorney General is required to prove that property is, on a balance of probabilities, proceeds or instruments of unlawful activity, or used in conspiracies that injure the public. Forfeiture may be granted pursuant to an order of a judge of the Superior Court of Justice.
“When real property is forfeited, the Ministry of the Attorney General takes necessary steps to prepare the building for sale or demolition. Where real property is sold, net proceeds of sale are deposited in a special purpose account. Funds in the account are disbursed in accordance with the Regulation, including cost recovery, victim compensation and grants.”
Demolition of buildings and sale of vacant land may be necessary where:
- The cost of remediation outweighs the possible financial return;
- There may be safety concerns; or
- It is deemed in the public interest to do so.
“With respect to locations that are illegally selling cannabis, the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 prohibits any person from selling or distributing recreational cannabis, other than the Ontario Cannabis Store, or Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario authorized retail stores,” adds Warner. “The Act also prohibits landlords from knowingly permitting such activities on their premises and allows for the immediate closure of locations”.