Pubdate: Mon, 26 Mar 2012
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2012 The Calgary Sun
Author: Jenna McMurray


Delegates from across Canada will meet Tuesday in Banff to see how a 
Calgary team is weeding out grow-ops.

The three-day War on Grow Ops conference will highlight the 
collaborative efforts of agencies in Calgary to suffocate the 
"prolific" problem.

"Grow-ops are really organized crime infiltrating our 
neighbourhoods," said Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who chairs the STOP 
Marijuana Grow Ops coalition.

Colley-Urquhart, also a member of the Calgary Police Commission, said 
about 95% of grow-ops in Calgary are stealing power, which creates a 
financial burden and presents a public safety issue.

"You and I, when we pay our utility bill every month, are paying for 
organized crime," she said.

"It's a significant burden on the taxpayers and we have come really 
close to having people killed in their own neighbourhoods."

She said one of the most concerning cases was a blaze that consumed 
several houses in Citadel, sparked by faulty wiring. Calgary's STOP 
coalition includes 44 stakeholders representing the commercial 
sector, public safety agencies, the legislative and judicial sector 
plus communities and businesses, she said.

The conference at the Banff Centre is co-hosted by the City of 
Calgary, the Calgary Police Service and the Alberta Law Enforcement 
Response Teams (ALERT).

ALERT spokeswoman Candace Cook said about 200 people are expected at 
the conference, where participants will analyse best practices for 
stopping grow-ops, look at trends and discuss safety hazards, among 
other things.

Colley-Urquhart said while the conference will seek to share 
successes, it will also be a good way to learn new methods of 
snuffing out what she says is a prolific problem.

"We have to stop (grow-ops) before they start," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom