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SCAN targets four drug houses in Fort Macleod

Action by a provincial crime-fighting unit, along with strong support from residents and agencies, has resulted in drug houses being shut down in Fort Macleod.

Glenn Stuart, an investigator with SCAN (Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods), provided an update Thursday on the unit’s work in Fort Macleod.

Stuart participated in a virtual town hall live-streamed on the Town of Fort Macleod’s YouTube channel.

Provincial legislation was passed 12 years ago to establish the Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods unit.

Working under the Solicitor General, SCAN does its work in civil courts as opposed to criminal courts.

SCAN’s eight investigators cover an area stretching from Red Deer to the U.S. border, and from the B.C. boundary to Saskatchewan.

The SCAN mandate covers areas including prostitution, bootlegging and gangs, but the unit does most of its work on drug houses.

When a complaint is received and confirmed, a SCAN  investigator sends a letter to the property owner advising there is drug activity and something needs to be done.

Investigators usually have a personal conversation with the property owner, in addition to sending the warning letter. This provides owners an opportunity to solve the problem on their own, possibly by evicting the tenant.

If no action is taken, SCAN takes an affidavit to Court of Queen’s Bench where a justice rules whether a community safety order will be issued.

A community safety order will close a property for up to 90 days. That closure includes boarding up the windows and fencing the property.

At the end of 90 days the owner of the property receives a bill for, on average, $7,000 for utilities, repairs and other costs.

SCAN started working on Fort Macleod files around March 1, spending a total of 16 days working on five properties in town.

SCAN has produced four warning letters to inform property owners there is a drug problem at their property that needs to be addressed.

“As a result of those letters there have been two removals, and one of those removals resulted in a property being boarded up,” Stuart said. “There is also a third possible removal.”

A hearing was to be held to address a tenant in one of the four properties who received an eviction notice but refused to leave.

SCAN has essentially produced one warning letter for every four days spent in Fort Macleod.

“We’re happy with those numbers,” Stuart said.

Stuart shared the credit for SCAN’s successes in Fort Macleod, noting the local RCMP detachment has provided support with investigations.

Stuart also credited the Lethbridge ALERT team, by-law enforcement officer Wes Noble and the Town of Fort Macleod for providing support to SCAN.

Fort Macleod residents have also helped SCAN with work in the community.

“Personally I’ve never seen so many people on board,” Stuart said. “We have a couple who are above and beyond, to tell you the truth.”

“Without your help, we don’t have this success,” Stuart said.

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