HA clubhouse

The house at the corner of Ellis Street and Roanoke Avenue in Kelowna’s North End doesn’t look much different than other houses in the area.

If you didn’t already know it was one of the clubhouses for B.C.’s most notorious gang, the Hells Angels, you might have never have figured it out.

The house at the corner of Ellis Street and Roanoke Avenue in Kelowna’s North End doesn’t look much different than other houses in the area.

Unlike Nanaimo, no signs with the organization’s distinctive winged logo indicate it’s the Hells Angels clubhouse. There is no flashing neon sign saying “open.” One possible exception? A ban circle with a drawing of a rodent – presumably a rat – graces the metal fence beside the intercom system but you have to get up close to see it.

A chain link fence surrounding the property is higher than most residential fences, blocking some view of the house. The gates have sturdy locks but there is very little outside the house that shows signs of gang activity.

Motorcycles are occasionally parked outside and police might drive by once in a while but most of the time, nothing obvious happened there.

The house didn’t draw a lot of attention to itself, other than perhaps every spring when the club would hold a poker ride where dozens of motorbikes would be parked outside the house while police took photographs from across the street.

A former neighbour of the clubhouse, who asked to be unnamed, said the area was generally quiet and there weren’t a lot of signs of activity on the Hells Angels property. Roaring exhaust pipes at 4 a.m. were fairly common, the former neighbour said. And on some weekends loud music could be heard in the early morning as the Angels and friends partied inside.

But despite its benign appearance, there was apparently a lot more going on inside, according to the provincial government.

A court decision last week ordering the property to be turned over to the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office provided some revealing details about the fortified house in Kelowna and its counterparts in East Vancouver and Nanaimo.

“Each of the Clubhouses consists of two stories situated on a fenced and gated property,” a 44,000-word ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal said.

“The fences impede or preclude seeing into the properties from the street. The front doors are made of metal and open outwards, preventing forced entry.

“Each Clubhouse is fitted with a security system with outside video cameras connected by closed‐circuit to internal monitors. Each has a ‘members only’ area set off from the main entertainment area ... The Clubhouses have kitchens, recreational areas, boardroom‐style tables and chairs, one or more bedrooms, gyms, and storage areas.

“The Clubhouses were generally occupied at all times to deter the police or rivals from entering the properties.”

The appeal court also ordered the Nanaimo and East Vancouver clubhouses be turned over to the civil forfeiture office.

The three judges declared there was sufficient evidence to show the houses would be used for criminal activity in the future.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barry Davies said he couldn’t jump to that conclusion, but the appeal court judges determined: “the inference is

inescapable that the clubhouses were likely to be used in the future as they had been in the past: to enhance and facilitate their members’ ability to commit unlawful acts.”

Twenty-eight convictions of Hells Angels members were entered as evidence in the original 2020 trial. Five members or associates of the Kelowna chapter were named.

“Between 1995 and 2012, these individuals committed dozens of offences, including

trafficking, conspiracy, weapons, manslaughter, aggravated assault, assault, extortion, criminal contempt and possession of stolen property offences,” the top court ruling stated.

Each clubhouse had been used to store at least some information and documents members used “to commit unlawful acts,” the judgment said.

During a search in 2012, police found a radio-frequency detector and radio-frequency jammer at the Kelowna clubhouse.

“The Nanaimo and Kelowna Clubhouses had signage inside with phrases such as ‘Watch What You Say in this Clubhouse, the Walls Have Ears.’”

B.C. Assessment values the 0.17-acre corner property in Kelowna at $1.297 million. The land is worth $674,000 and buildings $623,000, the agency said.

The house is described as a two-floor, one-bedroom, two-bathroom home, built in 1996.

The Civil Forfeiture Office wouldn’t make case-specific comments nor provide details on how it will take possession of the homes and dispose of them.

“The CFO follows the direction set out in the relevant Court Order,” the office said in an emailed statement. “The procedure followed by the Director to take possession of and sell forfeited property is dependent on the unique circumstances of each case.”

The court ruling said title to the Kelowna clubhouse is forfeited to the province

effective Nov. 19, 2012.

“The Land Title Office is directed to vest title to the Clubhouses in the Province. Any monies realized from the sale of the Clubhouses must be paid into the civil forfeiture account.”

From 2006-21, the civil forfeiture office collected $129 million in property and put

$66 million into crime prevention programs, and “remediation grants and compensation to eligible victims,” according to a government website.

The office was created to seize the proceeds of crime. The cases against the East Van and Kelowna clubhouse seizures were based on a referrals from the RCMP, the judgment said.

“As Premier Eby indicated, we will be going after the houses, cars and luxury goods of high-level organized criminals who think they can profit from criminal activity,” the office’s emailed statement said.