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Province rejects funding request for ‘desperately needed’ SCAN unit in Lethbridge

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Province rejects funding request for SCAN unit for Lethbridge
The provincial government has rejected funding for two programs in Lethbridge that could affect everyone from local transit users to community members worried about drug activity. Demi Knight reports. – Jan 14, 2020

Lethbridge will not be seeing a Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) office in the city any time soon.

SCAN is a unit of Alberta Sheriffs that deals with assessing and closing problematic properties where illegal activities like drug use and trafficking are happening.

While the request was rejected in late December, the city and its residents are only hearing of the disappointing development this week after it was announced publicly in a Monday council meeting.

“We desperately need to have the same types of services that are available in Calgary and Edmonton in order to make progress,” Mayor Chris Spearman said on Tuesday.

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Lethbridge currently relies on the SCAN unit in Calgary to help with the prolific problem, and while sharing resources has helped shut down three active drug houses in the last year, Spearman said more could be done if the city had constant monitoring.

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In October, city officials submitted a business case for a local office, stating “at any given time, Lethbridge has between 12 and 14 active drug houses.”

Click to play video: '‘It takes a community’: Lethbridge takes action against drug crimes'
‘It takes a community’: Lethbridge takes action against drug crimes

Spearman said having a SCAN unit in Lethbridge would help to not only board up the problem houses, but also deter further drug activity.

“There needs to be consistent service in the city to address the issue,” he said.

“Our police can issue warnings, they can arrest people as individuals, but they have difficulty shutting a property down and that’s what SCAN does for us.”

According to the city, the request was denied because of a lack of available funding.

READ MORE: Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods unit boards up Lethbridge drug house

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The city was also rejected for a low-income transit program.

Calgary and Edmonton have had such programs in place for several years now, and Spearman said this is another blow to his city, which also has residents who need this kind of help.

“Our city of Lethbridge has some of the highest levels of poverty in the province,” Spearman said.

“We believe that our riders should benefit from subsidy assistance programs in the same way people do in the bigger cities.”

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