It looks like Lethbridge won’t be getting a permanent SCAN unit here, at least not right now anyway.
Late last year (2019), City Council wrote to the province, asking for consideration of a dedicated Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) team to help shut down local drug houses.
Mayor Chris Spearman says he’s been told the UCP government doesn’t have money for a Lethbridge unit, however they are open to future discussions. “So what we would like to see is a greater SCAN presence. We had offered them office space here in the city to try and encourage them. We think if we could shut down the drug houses and have a regular presence here that would be effective.”
Last year SCAN shut down three drug houses in Lethbridge, something officials says is “extraordinary” for a city this size, especially given the fact the Alberta Sheriffs organization, operated on five closure orders in all of southern Alberta in 2019.
Spearman says it is encouraging that the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has said they’re open to further discussions, however the Mayor wonders if the province isn’t prepared to put a permanent SCAN office in Lethbridge, then what’s the middle ground?
Two weeks, ago SCAN officers shuttered a suspected west side drug house which Lethbridge Police had been called to numerous times, saying the house was “very active”.
The Mayor says to have a four to six member SCAN unit in Lethbridge would cost the province about $800,000 a year.
SCAN said earlier this month it currently has around 50 outstanding drug house complaints in Lethbridge. Spearman says the City of Lethbridge submitted a business case to the UCP government indicating at any one time there could be as many as 125 properties under surveillance and 12 to 14 active drug houses.
The Mayor says he wants to see those active houses shut down on a more regular and efficient basis.