Pubdate: Sat, 23 Apr 2005
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Duncan News Leader
Author: Angie Poss
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Landlords would have to pay closer attention to what happens on their 
rental properties under a prospective bylaw aimed at reducing marijuana 
grow operations in North Cowichan.

"We would like to dissuade them from coming to North Cowichan so if this 
moves them on, that's good," said Councillor Tom Walker of the proposed 
rule, which he introduced to council Wednesday.

The bylaw would tentatively require: landlords to make regular inspections 
of their properties; professional cleaning of carpets, walls and air ducts 
in homes where grow ops were discovered; new building and occupancy permits 
where the grow op resulted in changes to building structure; 
decontamination of pesticides and insecticides used in production.

The volunteer-based Community Policing Advisory Committee asked the 
municipality to consider creating the new regulation as one more tool to 
combat increasing drug production in the Cowichan Valley.

"We have at least three fires a year due to grow operations a year and 
there's a concern for firefighters' safety," said Walker. There's also the 
worry about booby traps, said RCMP Inspector Linton Robinson.

"The people who have grow operations are becoming more dangerous to with in 
terms of how they protect their operation, specifically in indoor grow 
operations," said Robinson.

While it is aimed at grow ops, the bylaw would cover any building where 
residents are illegally producing drugs.

CPAC review several similar bylaws in place in other communities, including 
Nanaimo, but used Chilliwack's rule as a model because it was the only one 
to address health issues caused by chemicals and by mold and mildew that 
often accompany grow ops.

"We've seen a fairly dramatic shift of grow operations away from rental 
properties," said Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hame.

While organized crime remains a problem in his city, their bylaw, brought 
in last fall, has been pushed grow operations to industrial areas and 
farms, reducing the danger to neighbours, he said.

The North Cowichan/ Duncan detachment dismantled 16 small grow ops in 2004, 
costing taxpayers upwards of $35,000, a number that doesn't include any 
outside help that was needed from BC Hydro, public works or the use of 
special equipment.

"These are costly operations and at present these costs are born by the 
taxpayer, not the landowner," said Walker.

That money is better spent on other things, said CPAC member Pam Campbell.

"The attraction was that this could help recover those costs," she said.

Absentee landlords must be more accountable for illegal activity on their 
property, she believes.

"There are people who buy property as an investment. They don't even live 
in our community but we have to deal with the problem."

She hopes the bylaw would encourage landlords to be aware of what is 
happening on their rental properties, even when they believe they have 
responsible tenants. The Community Policing Office has a free program to 
help landlords ensure grow ops are not happening on their property.

CPAC has also asked Duncan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District to 
consider similar bylaws but has received no response.

North Cowichan staff will spend the next few weeks drafting the bylaw with 
an eye to having it in place by summer.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman