Tool my help make a case to help authorities to take effective action

For some, it is difficult to imagine people continuing to cause problems during this pandemic. Nevertheless, it is still happening and if you live near a problem property, you might be glad to learn that the City of Edmonton has launched a new tool. 

The tool is an online complaint form. It was launched early this year as part of a response to the long-term issue of problem properties, and citizen complaints about the time (literally over a decade) it is taking Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and the City to act effectively. 

An important feature of the tool is that it is completely confidential. The Problem Properties of Edmonton web page states that, “The identity of the person or persons making the complaint (the reporter) is entirely confidential. The reporter will not be involved in any investigative or court proceedings that may result from the complaint.” Concerned citizens need not worry about further problems arising directly from their filing complaints with the City. 

This problem property has recently been boarded up. | Tekla Luchenski

Rebecca Lippiatt is a member of the Alberta Ave Housing Collective. She says, “I encourage people to use the tool as much as they can, because up until now there has been no tracking of complaints. I believe this tool will allow us to tell a story about these properties and have it officially recorded.” 

Lippiatt says that calls to 311 have been ineffective for many years. She further alleges that, “To date, neither the EPS nor the City are keeping any records of complaints against properties.”  One anonymous resident concurs, saying that they have called several times to report problems in their neighbourhood and that EPS operators allegedly say there are no records of previous complaints. 

Lippiatt and anonymous residents are optimistic that the City’s new online tool can be helpful. At this point, though, it is too early to tell. An anonymous resident says, “It’s a little bit hard because during the winter, things get quiet. They are less overt. I haven’t used [the online tool] because I can’t see what’s going on in the back of the [problem] house. When the summer comes, if we can actually be more social, people will see more activity.”

With warmer weather, concerned residents talk more to each other. They also see more activity at problem properties. The anonymous resident says, “I think there needs to be more education about this service.” Better promotion will encourage people to use the new tool to create data about problem properties. 

City staff stated that they were unavailable for comment about the online tool in time for publication because they are overwhelmed dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis.

Featured Image: Use the City’s new online tool to report problem properties. | Pixabay