The B.C. government demolished the Hells Angels’ clubhouse in Nanaimo Wednesday, 16 years after the province’s Civil Forfeiture Office seized the property.
The building’s demolition on Victoria Road has left people in Nanaimo with mixed feelings.
“Kind of sad. It’s a landmark,” said Pat Lewis, a Nanaimo resident. “It’s been here forever, as long as I can remember.”
“It’s really pretty to look at the artwork that they’ve done on the building,” said Brittany Hall, a neighbour. “But it’ll be a nice change of scenery to see something else built there.”
The Nanaimo property, along with two other clubhouses in East Vancouver and Kelowna, were the subject of a lengthy court challenge.
The courts had gone back and forth with their rulings, after RCMP raided and seized the Nanaimo clubhouse in 2007. In 2018, the biker gang launched a legal challenge of the seizure, and in 2020 the B.C. Supreme Court sided with the Hells Angels and returned ownership of the clubhouses to the biker gang.
That ruling was overturned by the B.C. Appeal Court in February 2023, and in October the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal filed by the Hells Angels, finally putting the legal challenge to rest.
In a statement, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the province would be demolishing the Nanaimo clubhouse on Wednesday after “more than a decade of legal action.”
“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 said.
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— Kendall Hanson (@Kendall_Hanson) November 15, 2023
According to BC Assessment, the Nanaimo clubhouse had an assessed value of $282,500.
The clubhouse in Kelowna had an assessed value of $1.3 million, while the property in East Vancouver was assessed at $1.52 million.
“Today’s action is only the beginning,” added Farnworth. “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.”
The Hell’s Angels footprint on the neighbourhood isn’t being wiped out with the clubhouse. It has ties to two of the properties beside it.
As for the former clubhouse itself, B.C.’s public safety ministry says it can’t provide operational planning details in advance of what steps will be taken to liquidate the property, but the public will be kept fully informed when a final decision has been made.
- OCT. 28, 2023: Location, location, location: three former Hells Angels clubhouses heading for sale
- OCT. 23, 2023: Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Hells Angels appeal of B.C. forfeiture ruling
- FEB. 15, 2023: Top court in B.C. reverses ruling, says province can order seizure of Nanaimo Hells Angels clubhouse
- JUNE 11, 2020: Supreme Court rules against B.C. in Hells Angels clubhouse forfeiture
With files from the Canadian Press