Former marijuana grow-ops in Calgary are the target of a new team trying to pressure owners into cleaning up the properties.
The Coordinated Safety Response Team, a joint project of the city and the province, is using existing legislation to improve homes considered eyesores and safety risks.
"These properties tend to pop up in every single neighbourhood," said Cliff de Jong, a member of the response team. "We really want to see these properties remediated quicker and if they're not going to remediate them then they need to be removed."
There are more than 160 former grow-ops sitting empty in Calgary.
Pat Miller lives two doors down from one. Two years after a police bust, the house remains empty because it needs repairs to pass safety inspections. That makes Miller and his neighbours uneasy.
"It hasn't been a good home for the neighbourhood, let's put it that way," said Miller. "The fact that it's sitting idle, it becomes a fire hazard."
Some former grow-ops sit empty even longer. They're uninhabitable because of air quality issues and structural damage.
To deal with these houses, members of the Coordinated Safety Response Team start by sending out a warning letter. More than 90 such letters have been mailed out and 43 owners have responded so far. In extreme cases where there is a safety risk, the province could seize the property or the home could be demolished.
"These properties need to be either remediated and brought back in to useful form and function into the neighbourhood or removed and readied for redevelopment," said de Jong.