New episodes of CBC Edmonton podcast Slumtown explore the world of Abdullah Shah

·3 min read
CBC Edmonton launched the Slumtown podcast in the summer of 2019. (CBC - image credit)
CBC Edmonton launched the Slumtown podcast in the summer of 2019. (CBC - image credit)

Months after the death of notorious inner-city landlord Abdullah Shah, his impact is still being felt in Edmonton's inner city.

People living in neighbourhoods like McCauley and Alberta Avenue say that disruption and disorder in the community continues to make life increasingly difficult.

Crime in those areas is on the rise, and the neighbourhoods have been plagued by arson.

It is those stories and Shah's death earlier this year that award-winning CBC Edmonton podcast Slumtown will explore in two new episodes.

The first episode, which drops today, can be found here or on your favourite podcast app.

"I know he used to speak of himself as a community-minded individual, but you know, when you look at the stuff on paper, it's truly not that way," says a neighbour of one of Shah's properties that burned down last year.

CBC News is not naming the resident because they fear retaliation.

"And … we would frequently witness ambulances showing up and police showing up and people died in there. One time a gun was pulled in the backyard and we were scared out of our wits, obviously.

"You know, all kinds of stuff happening, people getting evicted at the last second and all of their stuff is out on the boulevard and they have no place to go. And it's just super, super sad."

If you have a story to share, or a tip, text us using the form below, or you can email slumtown@cbc.ca.

If you haven't heard the first five episodes, check them out on your preferred podcast app or visit cbc.ca/slumtown

We've heard dozens of stories like these since we released our first five episodes back in 2019. And residents of these neighbourhoods say the problems have only gotten worse over the past three years.

Three years ago, Slumtown began investigating communities in crisis.

People living in Edmonton's inner city neighbourhoods – McCauley, Alberta Avenue, Parkdale – were complaining of community pain stemming from problem properties.

Problem properties are houses that see a high volume of calls from emergency services and social services. They are typically rental properties with multiple units in one home.

Inside, the houses can be so run down that Alberta Health Services orders the landlords to shut them down.

Sometimes they are drug houses or home to gang members.

Sometimes they're derelict properties that are being used as shelter by homeless people. It only takes one of these houses to severely disrupt everyday life for neighbours.

There are hundreds of problem properties in Edmonton's inner city. And in our investigation, we learned that many of these properties were all connected to Shah.

At one point, Shah owned and operated more than 100 rental properties in these neighbourhoods.

Shah was a convicted fraudster and drug trafficker, and he and his associates had constant citations from Alberta Health Services for the poor conditions of his properties.

Then, in March, Shah was fatally shot outside his house on Heath Road in Edmonton. It's not the first time Shah was shot. He was struck with a bullet outside of his inner city office in 2019 and he was shot two years later in August 2021.

Over the past three years, even more damning information came out about Shah.

With these two new episodes, we get to know Shah a little better and ask who might want him dead. We consider the future of the neighbourhoods now that he's gone, and whether he was a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Check out the new episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.