454 Garden Street – Drug Related Issues

Update: 18 September 2018 – Also see the newer post about the need for a City of Duncan Controlled Substances Property Bylaw.

Update: 11 October 2018  – on City of Duncan Enforcement Efforts and Costs In Connection With 454 Garden Street.

454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking north east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)
454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking north east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)

The City of Duncan is having some serious issues with a property at 454 Garden Street. This house and property has been declared a “hazardous waste site” due to rampant drug use having taken place on the property.

In March and April 2018 the City of Duncan spent over $12,000 to have a local private hazardous waste contractor, Lakeside Property Maintenance, based in Lake Cowichan, remove used syringes and other drug related material from the house and yard at 454 Garden Street.

I spoke with the owner of Lakeside Property Maintenance, who told me that the work at 454 Garden Street was carried out over four days, 29 March 2018 and 2-4 April 2018, and involved a crew of five people wearing full hazardous material protective equipment. Lakeside Property Maintenance removed 5 five gallon pails full of used syringes from the property along with 30-40 cubic yards of other drug related refuse.

The $12,000 cost of the clean up has been charged to the property owner through the City of Duncan property taxes on the property. As of 5 September 2018 the City of Duncan has not been reimbursed for the clean up costs.

Here is a Google Street View image showing how this house at 454 Garden Street appeared in 2015:

Here are photos of 454 Garden Street taken on 31 July 2018:

454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)
454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)
454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking south east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)
454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking south east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)
454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking north east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)
454 Garden Street, Duncan on 31 July 2018, looking north east (photo: DuncanTaxpayers.ca)

I have asked the City of Duncan for information on the situation regarding 454 Garden Street but Paige McWilliam has told me I will need to submit a Freedom of Information request to get that information. I have submitted a Freedom of Information request for this information but the City of Duncan has until October 2018 to respond to the request. I will post the information released by the City of Duncan when I receive it.

In the meantime, here is some background to the current situation:

454 Garden Street was purchased by a Victoria based investor for $182,000 on 30 June 2015. It was then rented to tenants.

I do not know how many tenants rented 454 Garden Street after July 2015 but by the fall of 2017 the house had acquired a reputation in the surrounding neighbourhood as a “flop house” and what might commonly be referred to as a “crack house” where constant and rampant drug related activity was taking place. The City of Duncan and the local RCMP received numerous complaints from neighbours about the illegal activities taking place at 454 Garden Street.

On 26 November 2017 the Duncan/North Cowichan RCMP executed a search warrant at 454 Garden Street which resulted in the arrest of 15 people. I contacted the Duncan?North Cowichan RCMP to ask for details of the case but the RCMP advised me they cannot comment or release any information about the case due to privacy legislation.

But a Times-Colonist article about the search warrant execution, published 29 November 2017, quoted RCMP officers as saying the property “was littered with hundreds of needles and contaminated with fentanyl” and quoting City of Duncan Bylaw Enforcement Officer Garry Kerr as saying “the conditions of the house were the worst he’s seen since his time with the municipality.

“Nobody from the City of Duncan would enter that residence due to fear of contamination,” he said.”

The presence of fentanyl, used syringes and other drug refuse in the house and on the property meant it was a hazardous waste site and unfit for habitation. That required that WorksafeBC become involved in regulating the clean up of the site.

Between November 2017 and April 2018, the City of Duncan held many discussions with the owner of 454 Garden Street about cleaning up the site. These discussions were unsuccessful and did not lead to a clean up of the site.

In March 2018 the City of Duncan decided to clean up the site and retained Lakeside Property Maintenance, based in Lake Cowichan, to remove used syringes and other drug related material from the house and yard at 454 Garden Street. As noted above Lakeside Property Maintenance spent four days at the site with a crew of five removing five 5 gallon pails full of used syringes from the property along with 30-40 cubic yards of other drug related refuse.

This begs an obvious question: why was this site allowed to sit as an unremediated hazardous waste site between the RCMP raid on 26 November 2017 and 29 March 2018, when Lakeside Property Maintenance began cleaning up the property under contract to the City of Duncan?

The property was obviously a public health hazard during this time and I will be looking into why it was not cleaned up before that time. I will post what I found out about this. But I think the City of Duncan definitely needs a Controlled Substances Property Bylaw, modeled on other such Bylaws enacted by many other municipalities and districts in B.C.

Some Additional Background Information

Here is some additional information on 454 Garden Street [note: I will be adding more to this section in the next few weeks]:

The City of Duncan Bylaw Enforcement dealt with the drug issues on this property under Bylaw 3156, the Good Neighbour Bylaw, enacted in the summer of 2017.

Here are some City of Duncan documents leading up to enacting of the City of Duncan Bylaw 3156, Good Neighbour Bylaw:

Here are the City of Duncan statistics on Bylaw Enforcement efforts and Clean Up costs associated with 545 Garden Street. This information was released in response to my questions on 454 Garden Street:

City of Duncan statistics on costs and enforcement efforts on the property at 454 Garden Street (source: City of Duncan)
City of Duncan statistics on costs and enforcement efforts on the property at 454 Garden Street (source: City of Duncan)
City of Duncan statistics on costs and enforcement efforts on the property at 454 Garden Street (source: City of Duncan)
City of Duncan statistics on costs and enforcement efforts on the property at 454 Garden Street (source: City of Duncan)

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