Pubdate: Mon, 23 Feb 2004
Source: Delta Optimist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc
Author: Berend Wassink



Re: Landlords should pay grow-op costs, Murphy's Law, Feb. 18

Ted Murphy contends that landlords are at least partially responsible
for the presence of grow-ops on their property and therefore ought to
be wholly responsible for the costs (incurred by the

As it is, landlords bear a severe cost as a result of damage to their
property. There are a number of reasons why I strongly disagree with
Murphy and the municipality.

First of all, landlords are to be carte blanche made liable without
any proof that they actually contributed to the presence of the
grow-op, either willfully or through negligence.

Consider a parallel example: If someone obtains money by deceit, we
call that fraud. We do not consider the victim in such cases to be
culpable. In the vein of Murphy's argument, the victim could be held
responsible for being ripped off.

The key point is that grow operators are the guilty ones. They are
difficult to catch, but landlords are convenient, stationary targets.
So pick them off instead.

But wait now, why stop at landlords? The municipality supplies the
water to those grow operators. And should not B.C. Hydro notice that
their meters have been bypassed? And what about the neighbours? They
must suspect something, surely.

If the municipality is so intent on passing the buck, there are plenty
of unwitting, unvigilant and inattentive (to borrow some of Murphy's
adjectives) to go around. If the municipality has a genuine reason to
believe there has been negligence on the part of a landlord in such
cases, there is a remedy: litigation.

The grow-op situation is a big problem. It is also a financially
costly problem (to say nothing of the human costs). In my view,
however, the municipality is quite ready to trample on principles of
justice (innocent until proven guilty and the opportunity to defend
oneself, in particular) for the sake of a buck.

We should think about that. It has wider implications than just
dealing with grow-op costs. Victims of other types of crimes can, by
extension, be made liable for costs incurred by municipalities as a
result of those crimes. As far as I can tell, all that is needed is
for those costs to be sufficiently onerous that the municipality will
want to recoup them badly enough.

Berend Wassink
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin