edm-millwoods-house

This suspected drug house in Millwoods was shut down Friday after investigators obtained a court order under provincial legislation designed to deal with houses used for illegal activities. (CBC)

A suspected drug house was shut down and boarded up in southeast Edmonton on Friday, the first such closure under a provincial act set up to crack down on problem properties.

Officials with the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods unit and Edmonton police removed the owner, boarded up the windows and put a fence around the property after they were granted a Community Safety Order from a Court of Queen's Bench judge.

"The owner's reaction was very subdued," said Lee Newton, manager of the northern Alberta unit of SCAN. "There was no issues this morning. People left without incident."

The house at 67th Street and 32nd Avenue in Millwoods was investigated after police received a number of complaints about suspected drug trafficking.

The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act came into effect on Oct. 1, 2008, to investigate complaints about properties used for drugs, prostitution and gangs. Two Alberta sheriff investigative units based in Edmonton and Calgary were set up to handle complaints from the northern and southern parts of the province, respectively.

Since then, it has received 402 complaints about problem properties, and has resolved 270. The Millwoods house is the first closure ever under the act, Newton said.

The property will be closed for 90 days, the maximum allowable under the act. At the end of the closure, the owner gets their house back. 

SCAN will investigate if activity continues in the future, but Newton thinks the closure may solve the problem.

"Disruption is a big part in dealing with these problems in the fact if life's made uncomfortable for these people in the neighbourhood, then ultimately, they tend to move on," he said.

Since SCAN is a civil act, the unit can't lay any criminal charges. However, any evidence of criminal activity gathered by the unit will be passed on to police, who could lay charges, Newton said.