Residents educated on current illegal activity in community

The community of Edgemont gathered together Sept. 20 as members of Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) offered insight on the issue of grow-ops in the neighbourhood.

SCAN is a provincial initiative that monitors criminal activity at a property and has a mandate to apply to courts to shut it down. Its investigators work closely with the Calgary Police Service to handle affected homes.

 The discussion in Edgemont last week ranged from what grow-ops actually look like to recognizing the possible signs of a grow-op on your street.

“We’ve had an increase in the number of complaints this year,” said Bill Kerr, an inspector with SCAN.

Kerr mentioned that one main reason why grow-ops are becoming harder toBarbara Fleet, Gael MacLoed and Constable Roy Moe attended the SCAN meeting in support of trying to prevent grow–ops in the community of Edgemont.

Photo by Jasmine Han track down is because of peoples’ hesitation to speak up about the issue.

“People realize it’s an issue, but a lot of people choose to ignore it because of what consequences there are,” said Geoff Wilson of the Calgary Police Service. “We are here to show them that there’s help.”

Living near a house used for a grow-op poses a threat to the surrounding homes, as the excessive electricity used in many grow-ops is a fire hazard. According to Wilson, a grow-op home is 24 times more likely to catch fire than a regular house.

Electrical fire hazards were brought to attention in 2009 when five homes burned down in the Citadel community due to grow-ops.

“I don’t think anyone took grow-ops too seriously until the fires in Citadel happened,” said Constable Roy Moe of the Calgary Police Service. “It was a good wake up call for everyone.”

Tips for reporting suspicious criminal activity:

• Contact your local community liaison officer.

• Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477

• Call the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234

• Call the SCAN unit at 310-0000

Not only are grow-ops a fire hazard, but they are known to produce toxic black mold, which also creates a health risk and significantly reduces the value of a house and surrounding properties by thousands of dollars.

“It’s one thing to see a grow-op on TV, but when you’re going through it yourself, it’s very distressing,” Gael MacLoed, Alderman for Ward 4 said. “You worry about your home value.”

Since 2009, seven grow-op houses in Edgemont have been dismantled.

Darlene Honeychurch has been living in the community for 17 years and has lived next door to a house where three different grow-ops have been located.

“The house is empty because of all the damages,” Honeychurch said.

Along with the damages and health hazards comes the stigma of the public knowing that your neighborhood has housed a grow-op.

“As we walk around, we wonder if houses are grow-ops,” said Edgemont resident Jeff Edwards. “But the openness of reporting my suspicion makes me feel at ease.”

jhan@cjournal.ca