Parents with children at Spencer Middle School are concerned that a biker clubhouse with alleged links to the Hells Angels may be opening just steps from the school.
West Shore RCMP has received reports that a Devils Army clubhouse is being constructed in the Langford neighbourhood and said the biker club is not welcome.
“I’m scared, to be honest. I really think it could bring more gang violence to the West Shore,” said one mother who asked not to be named.
Neighbours say renovations began at 2775 Spencer Rd. about a month ago. A tall black fence blocks entry to the building and the number 41 is displayed in large text.
The 41 is believed to represent D and A, the fourth and first letters of the alphabet. Hells Angels clubhouses typically display the number 81, for HA.
Devils Army has been called a puppet club of the Hells Angels. The Hells Angels have denied an affiliation.
A Devils Army presence has previously been reported in Campbell River.
Although there’s not evidence of criminal activity at the location, the RCMP said it will monitor the situation.
“Maintaining public safety remains the top priority of the West Shore RCMP detachment. We will work closely with our neighbouring RCMP, municipal police forces and partner agencies to identify, investigate and disrupt criminal activity and organized crime in our communities,” Insp. Larry Chomyn said.
Mayor Stew Young said RCMP have informed Langford council there may be “an issue.” While the city is concerned about construction happening without a permit, Young said he will leave criminal concerns to the Mounties.
Young, who owns a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, said it’s important to distinguish between criminal biker gangs and non-criminal clubs.
“We don’t condone criminal activity,” Young said. “If they’re a legitimate biker group or whatever, that’s fine. I’m hoping they are, and there are no issues.”
Sooke school district superintendent Jim Cambridge said he has been reassured by RCMP. “They’ve told us they don’t believe there’s any danger to the students right now and they’ve asked us to report any unusual activity.”
He said the district isn’t planning to alert parents to the clubhouse.
Parent Tracey Scown said younger kids at Spencer Middle School will likely be drawn by the clubhouse.
“They have the bikes, the look people are attracted to — whether positive or negative — that’s a draw,” she said.
Another parent said she teaches her kids not to judge a book by its cover, but to stay vigilant.
Local businesses said they aren’t concerned.
Loris Gibsons, who was cutting hair at Gibsons Local Barber Shop, said she hopes for more business, while the owner of a nearby grocery store said he’ll “wait and see,” before making a judgment.
Linda MacInnis, who works next door at Simpson Controls, said she welcomes the club and believes the Hells Angels do good charity work. “They do good things,” she said.
Deborah Dickie regularly brings the children from her Sooke-based daycare service to take advantage of the growing number of parks and facilities in Langford.
She said she will continue to use parks in the area, unless she sees a negative change in the neighbourhood. “If I feel safe, then I will continue to bring the kids to play in this area. But if there’s anything at all — we can’t put kids at risk.”