Governments Fighting Grow Ops

Alberta’s province and municipal governments are teaming up in order to tackle the province’s grow op problem.

In addition to convening what the province is calling “an expert panel” to address the health and safety concerns and criminal activity associated with marijuana grow-ops in Alberta communities, the provincial government is letting Albertans have their say by completing the Grow-op Free Alberta survey.

“We are taking a stand against this illegal activity as we move toward creating a grow-op free Alberta,” said Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. “Marijuana grow-ops pose a serious risk to the safety and health of Albertans, lead to increased organized criminal activity, and are becoming a chronic presence throughout the province.”

Community and stakeholder consultations will begin this month and are expected to run until May. They will be led by Rick Fraser, MLA for Calgary-South East, and supported by a panel of subject matter experts. Videoconferencing will be used to gather input from across the province.

While provincial estimates have put the number of grow ops in Calgary somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000, John MacDonald, CEO for Calgary-based remediation company ASE Services, said the problem is large enough to keep his company plenty busy.

“We’re coming across quite a bit of them. We work for a property management company for one of the financial institutions… they have several that are grow ops, that’s for sure. Just from some of the numbers they’ve told us, it’s a decent sized problem. [There’s] certainly enough work out there on grow ops to keep a consultant company like ours going for three or four projects a month.”

Among the stakeholders being asked for input by the province are police agencies; municipalities; fire officials; health, safety and building investigators; utility, mortgage and real estate companies, and community leagues. Discussions will focus on safety issues such as fire, electrical and structural hazards; remediation after a grow-op is dismantled and health issues including chemical contamination and mold exposure.

Albertans are invited to provide their input through a brief online survey and are encouraged to email their stories about their experiences with grow-ops in their communities.

“We want Albertans’ input, and these consultations will help us identify the issues associated with this illegal activity, and develop solutions to help protect and repair our communities,” said Fraser.

“The knowledge gained through this initiative will positively impact the issue by decreasing the number of marijuana grow operations and increasing the responsiveness of those involved in remediation of affected houses,” said expert panel member Wayne Brown, Lead, Coordinated Safety Response Team (CSRT), City of Calgary.

Albertans will also be able to provide comments online in response to comments gathered during the stakeholder consultation.

To increase awareness of the risks associated with marijuana grow-ops in our communities, an interactive marijuana grow-op house has been created.

For more information on the impacts of grow ops or to take the Grow-op Free Alberta survey, visit Justice.Alberta.ca.

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