Gate Keepers motorcycle club opens Halifax clubhouse on Fern Lane
RCMP say the expansion of the Gate Keepers to six chapters is part of a rising Hells Angel’s influence
An outlaw motorcycle club aligned with the Hells Angels has opened a clubhouse on Fern Lane in Halifax's north end.
Const. Scott Morrison is with the RCMP Criminal Intelligence Service in Nova Scotia. He says neighbours' sightings of bikers wearing Gate Keepers insignia are correct.
"That's one of the newest Gate Keeper clubhouses that's just opened up. And that's a club that's beginning to develop and take shape, and it's a support club for the Hells Angels."
Fern Lane is a short street, just two blocks long, sandwiched between Agricola and Robie Streets. It dead ends to the north at the former Bloomfield Centre, and to the south at a Honda dealership.
The clubhouse is a plain garage with a red door, and a security camera overhead.
Houses in the neighbourhood are set close together and right next to the sidewalk.
It's close quarters to share with members of a motorcycle club.
One community member, who spoke to CBC News anonymously, said, "They're not saying they're there to be friendly neighbours. It's a bad feeling, and you do feel like it's a risky situation… You feel threatened or you feel vulnerable or you feel exposed."
Morrison says the expansion of the Gate Keepers to six chapters is part of a rising Hells Angel's influence in Nova Scotia.
Complicated relationship between clubs
The province hasn't had a Hells Angels chapter since 2003 when a series of arrests closed it down.
Morrison said the clubhouse poses no immediate danger, but there is a potential for trouble.
"Enemies of these clubs that may know when they're gathering and when they're having an event. They may decide to crash that party in some way, whether that be a show of violence or a show of intimidation, that sort of thing," he said.
Stephen Schneider is an associate professor in the department of sociology and criminology at Saint Mary's University.
He believes the Gate Keepers have entered Halifax to counter a move last summer by the Bacchus club into Harrietsfield.
Schneider says the relationship between the Bacchus and the Gate Keepers is complicated. While they're both competing to be the dominant biker club in the province, the Bacchus have been aligned with the Hells Angels in the past, and there is no indication of direct conflict between the two clubs.
'Plethora of evidence' of crime
"As far as urban planning is concerned, it's probably not the best spot for the city. But again it doesn't matter, it's not the point. The point is the Bacchus moves one of their clubs into Halifax, the Hells Angels have to do the same thing with the Gate Keepers."
Schneider says he knows of no evidence the Gate Keepers are involved in illegal activity, he says the pattern is clear in other parts of Canada.
"There's a plethora of evidence and cases and data that various Hells Angel's affiliate clubs have undertaken criminal activity on behalf of the Hells Angels."
Morrison says police have increased patrols in the area, and are monitoring the clubhouse for any illegal activity.
Meanwhile, people in the neighbourhood are on alert, as one resident told us.
"I think that if it's a bunch of guys who just want to wear black vests with patches on it, and there's not a criminal element, then I just don't care. If they're bringing criminal activity into my neighbourhood, then I really think they need to know that we as a community are watching what's going on and we really don't want it there."