Some people living in Edmonton’s Alberta Avenue neighbourhood say they’re feeling relieved after a provincial task force boarded up a well-known house with a bad reputation.
Members of the provincial ALERT Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) team cleared out the house on Thursday, boarding its windows and putting a fence around the property.
Team manager Chip Sawchuk said SCAN members have been working with Edmonton police to investigate the property since Oct. 2011.
He says the house, located at 120th Avenue and 90th Street, has been a ‘haven’ for drug addicts and prostitutes for years. It was also the scene of a drive-by shooting in 2012.
Sawchuck said police have been called to the house more than 100 times since 2007, making it a major drain on resources.
Neighbours say they were also nervous about the property and the people who often visited it.
"A lot of drug dealing, the drive by shooting a couple of years ago, just stuff like that, just the high traffic of people that work on the streets,” said Maria Dacruz-Smith, who walks her young daughter past the house nearly every day on their way to school.
"My daughter just goes down to Dalton so it's good to have it down because we have to cross this area all the time to go to school so we're happy to have it shut down."
Neighbour Glen McLean said the high number of drug dealers and users hanging around the house made him worried for his safety.
"It's very scary – and some of them are people who are willing to shoot people because they don't care anymore, you know? I mean the people – some of the people who came around here – I could feel them. They were the type of people who could hurt you and feel no pain."
Now, Dacruz-Smith and McLean say they are hopeful things will change.
Under provincial legislation, the once-troublesome house will now remain empty for 90 days. However, it’s not yet known what will be done with the property once those 90 days are over.
But McLean has one thing he’d like to see.
"I'd really love to see just an ordinary family move in here, you know, just healthy, regular people.”
The ALERT SCAN team is made up of a group of Alberta sheriffs who work to target problem properties – namely those involved in prostitution, drug use and trafficking, and gang activity – around the province.
SCAN has received more than 350 complaints about problem properties in Alberta since April 2013.