It only takes one house.

A battle is brewing in Edmonton's inner city.
Neighbours are terrified. Fights, overdoses and crime spill out from problem houses, many owned by a small group of people connected by one notorious landlord.

CBC’s Elizabeth Hames investigates.

People living in Edmonton’s inner-city communities are clashing with problem properties — needles on their lawns, people overdosing in their yards, fights in the alleys. Residents fear for their safety and calls to authorities seem to fall on deaf ears.

Host Elizabeth Hames investigates who owns the city’s problem properties … and finds there are dozens of them linked to one person. Meet the man who’s so powerful, neighbours are afraid to say his name out loud.

This episode has been updated to better reflect reports of raw sewage in one of the properties discussed. Tenants and a health inspector reported raw sewage in the house. However, a plumber hired by the landlords found no evidence of raw sewage. Alberta Health Services accepted the plumber’s report and didn’t question its findings.

Why would anyone live in a house condemned by health authorities, plagued by vermin and mould and where crime and drug use is prolific? For some, it’s their only option. Go inside the houses and meet the people who live — and sometimes die — in places like these.

This episode has been updated to more accurately reflect court decisions surrounding Alberta Health Services and some inner-city properties in Edmonton. Clarifying that days after “Donna” moved out of the house, health authorities ordered owners not to allow anyone to live there until repairs were made.

Frustrated by a lack of action from authorities, residents take the fight against problem properties into their own hands — buying lots with their retirement savings to push bad landlords out and bring families in.

This episode has been updated to more accurately reflect court decisions surrounding Alberta Health Services and some inner-city properties in Edmonton. Clarifying the home Donna lived in was ordered to undergo repairs by health authorities.

Months of investigating has raised more questions than answers. What’s going on in a recent sale — potentially worth $6 million — of problem properties in Edmonton’s inner city? Host Elizabeth Hames looks at the final questions still left unanswered.

About the team

Elizabeth Hames

Host, writer, producer

Elizabeth Hames is a producer with CBC Edmonton with a passion for research and investigations. She is intensely curious and nosey and is living her best life when scouring documents for clues and telling details. She began her career with small-town newspapers on Vancouver Island and Whitehorse and started with CBC as an intern for News Network and As It Happens while pursuing her Master of Journalism at the University of British Columbia. An opportunity to work for a business magazine brought her out to Edmonton, and she transitioned to CBC Edmonton in 2016.


Producer and script editor: Leslie Goldstone
Researcher: Anya Zoledziowski
Sound editor: Corey Haberstock
Executive Producer, Current Affairs: James Evans
Director, Journalism and Programming, CBC Edmonton: Stephanie Coombs
Legal Counsel: Eve St-Laurent
Communications and promotions: Jessica Chan, Krystina Silva, Stephen Lubig
Special thanks to: Shiral Tobin, Paul Moore, Cort Sloan, Juris Graney, Janice Johnston, Dave Howell, Caitlin Hanson, Chris Martin