Pubdate: Wed, 20 Oct 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Province Moves To Toughen Hydro Legislation

Marijuana Houses To Have Power Cut Without Notice

Within hours of Toronto police dismantling another indoor marijuana
grow operation in Scarborough, Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter
announced steps he said would control their proliferation and "make
Ontario communities safer."

The proposed legislation would allow electrical distributors to cut
hydro to homes suspected of growing pot without notice, Kwinter said,
"in accordance with a court order or for emergency, safety or
system-reliability reasons."

Police officials applauded the move to stem what Chief Julian Fantino
yesterday called an "epidemic" of grow-ops. But opposition critic
Peter Kormos (NDP, Niagara Centre) did not.

"This will not eradicate grow-ops, not as long as there is a market
and huge profits to be made," MPP Peter Kormos (NDP, Niagara Centre)
said after Kwinter introduced the legislation at Queen's Park. The new
legislation doesn't give local utilities any new powers, but enshrines
into statute what already exists in the Fire Protection and Prevention
Act. An official at Hydro One yesterday confirmed utilities now have
the authority to pull the plug for a variety of reasons, such as
non-payment and suspected theft of power.

Kwinter said the new law will also require building inspections of all
homes after police have confirmed a grow-op. "If building inspectors
deem the property unsafe, they are required to issue orders for
repair. This would protect people from purchasing a property that
would require thousand of dollars of repairs," Kwinter told the

The bill also doubles maximum penalties for things such as tampering
with wiring, which could cause excessive heating and lead to a fire,
and establishes an account so that proceeds of seized assets from
grow-ops, such as real estate and cars, can go toward enforcement and
victim compensation.

At the announcement, firefighters screened a video showing how teams
must now be prepared for booby-trapped grow ops - one had an
alligator. Toronto police have dismantled 248 operations this year.
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