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Macleod takes aim at drug dealers, absent land owners

Fort Macleod is potting a bulls-eye on drug dealers and the land owners who enable them.
A new Safe Communities Task Force will be struck in June to target drug dealers and delinquent landlords.
“Our big push and focus is going to be drug dealers and delinquent land owners do not belong in the Town of Fort Macleod,” said Sue Keenan, chief administrative officer for the town.
“We’re going to use every resource at our disposal to either have them clean up properties or leave the Town of Fort Macleod.”
The committee will have representation from the RCMP, Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN), Alberta Health Services, Town of Fort Macleod, council, building codes inspectors, and by-law enforcement.
Keenan made the announcement as a 47-year-old woman charged in a drug bust was evicted from a house on 10th Street.
That same afternoon, the town’s public works crew was boarding up abandoned houses previously occupied by drug dealers and users.
“The land owners have abandoned them,” Keenan said, explaining the properties fall into disrepair and taxes go unpaid. “We can’t get ahold of them.”
It is a lengthy process for the Town of Fort Macleod to move to a tax recovery auction, and to have the house declared uninhabitable and tear it down.
While the house sits empty it becomes a ready place for drug users to break in and get high.
“It becomes a problem,” Keenan said. “People will buy their drugs and then squat in that property because it’s accessible and do their drugs, and then it causes nightmares for all of these (other) residents.”
Keenan said there are at least six properties on 10th and 11th streets that have been abandoned.
“We continually get complaints from neighbours.”
The town attempts to work with the land owners but calls go unreturned or the people cannot be located.
Keenan said it is difficult to address all the issues when the agencies work independently, but joining forces in an aggressive push should get things done faster and efficiently.
“By bringing everyone to the table and brainstorming ideas will hopefully allow us to take a hard line on some of these people.”
Neighbours have helped by reporting suspicious activity to the town or RCMP, something that should continue.
Sgt. Bryan Mucha, who has command of the Fort Macleod RCMP detachment, welcomed the formation of a task force.
“You’ll have better communication,” Mucha said. “I think that’s the biggest key.”
Keenan said the task force is key to Fort Macleod’s future.
“When somebody gets arrested selling drugs, and they have weapons, the whole community should be very concerned,” Keenan said. “As a community, the only way we’re going to address this is collectively, together.”

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