Judge rejects 'drug house' allegation
A Queen's Bench judge has rejected a request by the province to close down a Regina house occupied by two sisters, saying there's not enough evidence that it's habitually used for illegal drug activity.
People in Regina and Saskatoon have complained for years about houses being used for illegal purposes and a new law, the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, is supposed to help communities shut them down. However, any application to close down an alleged drug house has to be approved by a judge.
On Friday, the first case under the 2005 law to be challenged in the courts was decided by Justice Janet McMurtry.
It concerns a house at 2318 Retallack St. where, according to Justice Department investigators, teenagers had been observed smoking marijuana and selling drugs.
In late November, they were served with a notice to appear in court and were told drug activity had been observed at their home. Under the Act, Susan and Louise Mayer could have been evicted.
However, McMurtry ruled there was not enough evidence and dismissed the application.
"There is very little detail about the involvement of the [Mayers] in the alleged activity," McMurtry said in her nine-page decision.
"There is insufficient detail to rebut the [Mayers'] submission that the teenagers seen smoking were smoking cigarettes and not smoking marijuana and finally, there is little evidence to contradict the [Mayers'] submission that the complaints have been exaggerated at the instigation of their next-door neighbours."
Susan Mayer said the court action had a strong impact on her family and the decision is a relief.
"We were really stressed out. It caused me and my sister both to miss a fair amount of work. My daughter was stressed out, too," she said.
"We didn't even celebrate Christmas at our house, we didn't get a tree, we didn't do any of the normal things we usually do because we didn't know if we'd even be there."
Mayer estimates she's spent about $4,000 in lawyer's fees, which she would like to get back.
She also wants the province to re-examine the act, saying it is not being used to crack down on legitimate drug houses.