The Hells Angels motorcycle club’s Nanaimo clubhouse is being demolished Nov. 15 after years of legal wrangling.
"After more than a decade of legal action, government is now in legal possession of three properties previously used as Hells Angels' clubhouses in Nanaimo, Kelowna and East Vancouver to coordinate criminal activities, and today we will be demolishing the clubhouse in Nanaimo,” Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said.
The demolition comes under the jurisdiction of the province’s Civil Forfeiture Office.
In June, B.C.’s Court of Appeal rejected an attempt by the Hells Angels to prevent the sale of three biker clubhouses pending an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In February, the appeal court ordered the forfeiture of three properties. The province became the registered owner of the properties.
However, Angel Acres Recreation and Festival Property Ltd. and all others interested in the properties appealed. They sought a restraining order to prevent the province from disposing of the land pending a decision from the high court in Ottawa.
Before the Ottawa high court, Hells Angels’ lawyers asked the decision be overturned on grounds that the province overstepped its legal powers in allowing certain civil forfeitures, and that the appeal court had “caused unfairness” by “reframing” and “reinterpreting” the case against the motorcycle club.
As is customary for the Supreme Court of Canada in leave to appeal application rulings, the court provided no reasons for its dismissal of the case.
It’s a situation that has been ongoing since 2007 when the director of civil forfeiture began proceedings for the Nanaimo property. Similar proceedings began in 2012 regarding the Vancouver and Kelowna properties.
In March, the director sought court permission to sell the properties.
“On April 12 and 13, 2023, the director permitted the applicants to empty the Nanaimo clubhouses of its contents. By April 14, 2023, the locks had been changed in all three clubhouses,” Justice Ronald Skolrood said in his June 9 decision.
The bikers filed an appeal in Ottawa April 17 and the B.C. appeal to stop the sale pending the Ottawa decision four days later.
The B.C. court also rejected a Hells Angels request that, if the sales were allowed to proceed, the director “must list and advertise the properties on the open market” on an arm’s-length basis. They further asked that the director be made to submit to the court a record of all buyer inquiries and offers, terms of sale and full proceeds of purchase price.
Farnworth said the demolition is part of helping communities feel safe.
“The forfeiture of these properties is a significant step forward in putting organized crime on notice in British Columbia,” the minister said. “We will continue to undermine every effort that criminals make in B.C to profit from their criminal activities.”
"Government will continue to protect British Columbians and take action against organized crime by seizing illegally obtained assets — brick by brick, we will demolish organized crime and those that profit from it,” he added.
He said the seizure and demolition are part of targeting crime.
"As part of our Safer Communities Action Plan, we passed legislation to add unexplained wealth orders as a powerful new tool and another way that government will pursue ill-gotten gains generated from criminal activity more efficiently,” Farnworth said.