The Edgemont Community Association (ECA) held a public meeting on Thursday aimed at supporting public awareness around grow-ops. The event was spearheaded by Edgemont resident Pam Lavers, who lived next to a grow-op for several years before it was shut down.

Ward 4 Alderman Gael MacLeod, and representatives of the Calgary Police Service, Co-ordinated Safety Respond Team (CSRT), CREB®, CrimeStoppers, and Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) provided residents of Edgemont with information on the impact of a grow-op – before, during and after it has been in existence.

Echoed throughout the evening was key advice on preventing grow-ops in your neighbourhood – get to know your neighbours – or, as MacLeod put it, “be the busybody neighbour.”
Grow-ops bring a criminal element with them, including petty theft. You might face 2 a.m. wake-ups, thanks to headlights coming and going from a neighbouring house.

Your property value may go down because the house used as a grow-op has been severely devalued by irreparable damages to the structure, the walls, the electrical and plumbing systems or the exterior of the house.

In Calgary alone, there are more than 600 files opened and about 100-150 warrants executed per year, said Staff Sgt. Tom Hanson. Hanson said Calgary’s relative proximity to the U.S. border and transport corridors makes the city a desirable location for this type of activity.

Calgary Police are bound by certain laws and is only able to act on information from the public. For the areas where the police are restricted to act, the SCAN unit can offer some assistance.

The SCAN Act of Alberta operates under the civil code, allowing them greater freedom in the pursuit of evidence against a complaint. “After receiving a complaint from the public, SCAN investigative units will start an investigation” can issue a warning letter and can “apply to the courts for a Community Safety Order,” said Hanson. SCAN works as a partner with CSRT to ensure the health, safety and security of the neighbourhood are priorities.

The remediation of grow-op houses is an issue for the City of Calgary as well as the CSRT team. The CSRT’s Cliff de Jong said resources are limited in Calgary; there are few labs capable of testing air quality, for example. For this reason, remediation time now averages 2 ½ years. The city has stated it would like this time to be six months.

Once a property is remediated and put up for sale, Bill Kirk, a director on the CREB® board and HomeLife Cityscape REALTOR®, points out that property is stigmatized. Contracts that REALTORS® use require sellers “by common law to disclose defects that are hidden.”

The disclosure of a house being used as a grow-op can understandably scare potential buyers away from the property.

All of these groups are working to ultimately eliminate illegal marijuana grow-ops. By taking the time to get to know your neighbours and utilizing the resources outlined in this post, community members can take action to prevent their homes from being affected by such illegal activity.

Keep an eye on the CREBNow blog for more in depth posts from each of the resources in this post. Until then check out the links below for more information.

Alberta Health Services
Police Marijuana Pamphlet
CREB Illegal Drug Operations Info

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