November 15, 2014 8:14 pm
Updated: November 15, 2014 8:17 pm

Forest Lawn community trying to change reputation


CALGARY- Crime and the trouble that comes with it has been a long battle in Calgary’s southeast neighborhood of Forest Lawn.

So its a community trying to take back control .

Saturday, homeowners, landlords and police teamed up to fight for a better future for Forest Lawn .

People who call Forest Lawn home, rave about good neighbours, big yards and a quick commute.

“I love it. It’s very accessible, it’s a very friendly neighborhood and the diversity here is amazing,” Michel Selim said.

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Michel Selim is  a Forest Lawn resident and landlord. He’s organized the conference to bring other neighborhood landlords together in an effort to improve the community.

“There are a lot of rental properties in this area and it’s mostly low income and unfortunately that also means we have drug addictions,” Selim said.

Gerry Baxter with Calgary’s Residential Rental Association says it’s up to landlords to try to keep undesirables out.

“Don’t rent to the first person through the door. screen them properly and make sure that they are good people make sure that they come with a good track record and if you can do that you can help clean up the community along with your neighbors,” Baxter said.

But some landlords say it’s tough to get good renters.

“Because of the stigma. It’s unfair that Forest Lawn is trapped into the stigma and because we don’t have good quality tenants moving in it strengthens the stigma and we are working with the landlords to break the stigma,” one landlord said.

Glenn Stuart is an investigator with ‘SCAN’, a provincial program that works with police to shut down problem properties by fencing the home and boarding it up for 90 days.

“I’d say 95% of landlords are very cooperative with us. Most of them don’t even know there’s a problem going on and they are relieved that we have come and told them,” Stuart said.

“The police had been there 144 times in one year and after the fence went out and came down I don’t know that they’ve been back. I was by the property the other day and it’s well groomed and it looks great so the program works,” Stuart said.

Landlords at the meeting were encouraged to call “scan” if they suspect problems at their rental property.

“I’ve had a landlord that literally cried on my shoulder because she knew the problem was there but she had no idea how to get rid of them and she was scared of these people and rightfully so she should be scared,” Stuart said.

One home that recently had shots fired through its windows and there was an attempted arson at it on Thursday.

The home became the latest residence targeted by SCAN.  The landlord was served with a warrant, another step in turning the neighborhood around.

The SCAN team was in danger of falling victim to budget cuts last year, but was spared.

Police Chief  Hanson is worried about  how upcoming shortfalls  may affect the unit.

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