There is probably a marijuana grow-op in your Calgary neighbourhood, no matter where you live, according to police statistics. Pam Lavers, a resident of Edgemont, has faced this issue not once but three times.
Lavers discovered a house in her neighbourhood had been a meth lab and then became a marijuana grow-op on two separate occasions. It was owned by someone who lives outside of Canada, making it difficult to hold the owner accountable for the illegal activity going on inside.
Edgemont is a “pretty open neighbourhood,” says Lavers – the people are nice and the neighbourhood is great. Although same neighbours were wary of getting involved, most banded together and got the practical education they needed to deal with the presence of a grow-op.
Lavers says others can learn from their experience. If you suspect a house is being used as a grow-up, she recommends calling SCAN (Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods), a program under the Alberta Ministry of Justice’s Crime Reduction and Safe Communities Task Force.
SCAN promotes community safety by targeting/investigating properties. Whereas police face the daunting task of investigating and charging the operators of the grow-op, SCAN legislation holds property owners accountable for illegal activities regularly taking place on their property. This makes it easier to get results.
The type of activity that Lavers and her neighbours noticed included:
• foggy windows
• snow doesn’t stay on the house
• blue lights are used inside the house
• early morning and extra traffic
• residents eat outside and dry their clothes outside the house.
The police did what they could within the law, including regularly driving by the house in Edgemont, especially during times of reported heavy traffic. Community security also drove through on a regular basis to discourage the traffic linked to illegal activities.
When Lavers tried to do the neighbourly thing and get to the know the people living in the house, police asked her to stop out of concern for her safety. So, she resorted to other techniques.
“Buy binoculars to see licence plates, buy alarms with cameras to show proof of activities, involve the neighbours and don’t take no for an answer.”
The last time this house was shut down, it went through a year-long remediation. The City of Calgary has managed to trim the remediation time from two years to 18 months, according to Ald. Gael MacLeod.
The house is vacant and for sale. Neighbours plan to bring a lot of baking to the new owners’ doorstep.