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BC: B.C. Acts Used To Weed Out Marijuana Grow Operations

Goldie

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BC: B.C. Acts Used To Weed Out Marijuana Grow Operations


The urban battle against marijuana growing operations continues to gather legal arsenal as the province encourages cities to use provincial regulations already in place to gain access to suspicious homes and buildings.

The approach will not only weed out grow-ops but also help prevent fires and the costs to tax payers, said Solicitor-General Rich Coleman.

Starting this month, Coleman said Surrey will be strictly enforcing the Safety Standards Act, which governs electrical installations, among other building issues.

Teams of firefighters, police and electrical inspectors will investigate "suspicious homes with unusually high electrical power consumption." The minister's release said if a residence is found to be a hazard, or an inspection is not permitted in a reasonable time, power will be cut. The homeowner must then allow an inspection by city electrical inspectors and obtain a permit before power is restored.

In Abbotsford, the fire service already uses the Fire Services Act to gain entry into places where there is a known hazard to life or property, said deputy fire chief Mike Helmer.

The department will also be using the Safety Standards Act. The act prohibits non-certified individuals from working on electrical systems and prohibits the creation of unsafe conditions or the condoning of illegal activities.

Helmer said the correct acts will be used in the appropriate circumstances, and only when a high risk is determined through supporting evidence, such as police surveillance.

The average home owner won't have to fear a knock on their door, he said.

"The bottom line is we don't want any hazard to life, but we also don't want to encroach on human rights. We have to be careful, because judges are quick to react to abuses of the acts, and so they should be," he said.

Helmer estimates about 10 per cent of fires in Abbotsford are due to marijuana grow-ops, in which operators often overload their electrical systems, a situation that can then trigger fires.

In 2003, there were 13 calls related to "substance incidences," including a fire in a garbage can at the Abbotsford hospital that may have been caused by a lit joint, he said.

"Last year, we had 17 controlled substance incidences, two of which were meth [methamphetamine] labs, the rest were grow-ops. There was a loss of $400,000 in property as a result of the fires. The estimated cost to the department was $113,000, for manpower and equipment," said Helmer. The city now bills the homeowners to recover those fire service costs, and also charges for inspections and fines for violations of local and provincial regulations.

2005 The Abbotsford Times
Contact: editorial@abbotsfordtimes.com
Website: http://www.abbotsfordtimes.com/
 

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