This page only gives legal information.  If you have a legal problem you should contact a lawyer.

Q - What is SCAN?

‘SCAN’ is a Nova Scotia law called the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act.

SCAN deals with illegal activities that adversely affect a neighbourhood that:

  • may be a health, safety or security concern, or
  • interfere with peaceful enjoyment of property.

For example, SCAN covers specific activities like:

  • illegal sale of alcohol or drugs
  • illegal gambling, or
  • prostitution.

SCAN allows anyone to complain anonymously to Nova Scotia’s Public Safety Investigation Unit if they are concerned that these types of activities may be happening on a regular basis in their community.

Q - Who can make a complaint?

Anyone can make a complaint if they believe activities like illegal sale of alcohol, possession of drugs, gambling, prostitution, are regularly happening in their community. Complaints are confidential.

Once you make a complaint you are referred to as the “complainant”. Your identity cannot be revealed unless you agree in writing. To make a complaint contact Nova Scotia’s Public Safety Investigation Unit at 1-877-357-2337. You’ll find more information online at www.gov.ns.ca/just/Public_Safety/safer_communities.asp

Q - How do I make a complaint?

Call the Public Safety Investigation Unit at 1-877-357-2337 to make a complaint.

Q - What happens if a complaint is made?

After a complaint is made the Director of Public Safety or public safety investigators may:

  • Try to solve the problem informally
  • Ask for more information
  • Question neighbourhood residents
  • Investigate the complaint, including conducting surveillance of the property
  • Send warning letters to the property owner or occupants
  • Apply to court for a community safety order
  • Take other steps the Director considers appropriate

The Director may decide not to act on a complaint, or to stop action on a complaint, and must tell the complainant about this decision in writing.

The Director does not have to give reasons for a decision.

Q - What is a Community Safety Order?

A Community Safety Order is a court order that requires people to stop doing specific illegal things on a property, and may also order people to leave a property.

A Community Safety Order:

  • gives the property’s address
  • describes specific activities that are the reason for the order
  • requires people not to do or allow any of the activities at the property
  • requires certain people named in the order to do what is reasonable to stop the activities from continuing or happening again, and
  • gives the date the order ends.

Depending on the situation, a community safety order might also:

  • Order people to leave the property
  • Stop people from going back to the property
  • End a lease or tenancy agreement
  • Order that the property be closed for up to 90 days, and
  • Give the owner possession of the property.

Q - When will the Court decide to impose a Community Safety Order?

A Community Safety Order might be put in place if the court is satisfied that

  • there are activities happening that show the property is being used for a ‘specified use’, and
  • the activities negatively affect the community or neighbourhood.

‘Specified use’ includes: illegal sale of liquor, prostitution, illegal gambling, illegal possession, use, sale, transfer or exchange of drugs. The activities must be happening on a regular basis.

Q - I'’ve been served with a Community Safety Order. Can it be changed or overturned?

If you have been served with a Community Safety Order and do not agree with it you should get legal advice right away. You may be able to get legal advice from Dalhousie Legal Aid or Nova Scotia Legal Aid. If you do not qualify for Legal Aid, you may contact a lawyer in private practice.

You may apply to the Court (Supreme Court of Nova Scotia) to ask a judge to change the Community Safety Order if you live in the property but are not the owner (for example - you are a tenant), and the order:

  • says you and anyone living with you must leave (vacate) the property and can’'t go back
  • ends your lease or tenancy agreement, or
  • says that the property must be closed.

 If you are not sure whether the order does any of these things, call the Public Safety Section, Policing & Victim Services Division, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, at (902) 424-2504.

You must apply to court within 14 days of the date you were served with the order.

A property owner or anyone who lives at the property, including a tenant, may apply to Court to change part of an order that says the property must be closed. You must apply to court before the date given for closing the property.

Applying to Court does not ‘stay’ the Community Safety Order. This means that even if you apply to Court to try to get the order changed, you still have to follow the order until the Court says differently.

If you are a tenant the Court might change the community safety order by, for example:

  • giving you and anyone living with you more time to leave the property
  • allowing you to move back in if you already moved out, or
  • putting your lease or tenancy agreement back in place.

Q - Can I appeal a Community Safety Order or other court order under SCAN?

You should get legal advice right away if you want to appeal a decision under SCAN. If you want to appeal you must apply to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal within 14 days of the order you are appealing from. An appeal can only deal with “questions of law”, which are basically legal issues the judge made a decision about, not decisions on the facts. You must first get the court’s leave (permission) to appeal.

Q - Can the Director apply to Court more than once to close down the same property?

Yes.

Q - What are the penalties if I don’t follow a Community Safety Order?

The penalty is different depending on your offence.  See the list below for offences under SCAN and the possible penalties:

  • If you are found guilty of removing or defacing an order notice posted on a building under SCAN you may have to pay a fine of up to $2,500.00, be sent to jail for up to 3 months or both.
  • If you are found guilty of entering a property that is closed under a Community Safety Order you may have to pay a fine of up to $5,000.00, be sent to jail for up to 6 months or both.
  • If you are found found guilty of not following a Community Safety Order you may have to pay a fine of up to $500 for each day that you do not follow the order.

Q - What about my rights under the Residential Tenancies Act?

If there is any conflict between the Residential Tenancies Act and the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Acttakes priority.

Q - Where can I get more information?

For legal advice:

  • Nova Scotia Legal Aid – nslegalaid.ca, or listed under ‘Legal Aid’ in the government blue pages of the telephone book
  • Dalhousie Legal Aid Service– (902) 423-8105
  • A lawyer in private practice (a lawyer you would pay) - contact LISNS’ Lawyer Referral Service, or a lawyer listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book