Pubdate: Wed, 12 Apr 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Vern Faulkner, Esquimalt News


Victoria police Const. Brad Fraser motioned to an image  on the screen
behind him depicting a neighbourhood of  luxury homes.

Against the backdrop of well-maintained homes and  backyard swimming
pools, one home stood out... or, at  least, its remains did.

Debris lay scattered across the breadth of at least  five surrounding
parcels of land: shattered wood,  chunks of concrete, the remains of a
vehicle, shreds of  clothing and the crumbled lumps of appliances.

The image bore startling semblance to pictures that  became
all-too-familiar in the wake of Hurricane  Katrina, save that the home
had not suffered from a  natural disaster.

Instead, as Fraser explained, the house had harboured a  large-scale
marijuana growing operation. When occupants  began extracting
marijuana sap into high-grade oil  using highly explosive solvents,
something went  horribly wrong.

The story drove home a message Fraser delivered to  Esquimalt council 
Monday: the town must actively and  quickly adopt a bylaw requiring 
landowners to pay for  costs incurred by marijuana grow-ops and so 
called  "labs" producing illegal drugs such as ecstasy and  crystal 

When (not if) a lab is found in Esquimalt, the labour  and time
required to clean up the mess will be  extensive, Fraser declared,
because drug manufacturing  process involve dangerous chemicals and
create highly  toxic byproducts that require significant labour to
clean up or remove.

"When a meth lab is discovered in Esquimalt, you'll  have a lot of
people coming to do a lot of things," he  said.

Because the region does not yet have a specialized unit  able to deal
with hazardous materials, a HAZMAT team  will have to come here from
Vancouver, he explained: a  costly venture.

Then there's the labour of firefighters, police, health  officials: no
small sum, Fraser asserted. Add that to  the costs of the provincial
and federal workers that  will have to sort through the witches brew
of chemicals  to identify them and the cost of shipping to those
chemicals by barge to the Mainland for destruction, and  even a simple
lab will leave the taxpayer on the hook  for a bill that will range
from as little as 5,000 or a  sum exceeding $100,000.

Clean up for a small clandestine lab might take as  little as 18
hours, while a so-called large-scale  "superlab" takes as long as long
as week to process,  Fraser said.

"Ninety-to to 95 per cent of labs are found on rental  properties," he
pointed out. The bylaw presented, he  said, will force landlords to be
more vigilant about  the people they rent properties to.

"There are property owners out there that definitely  put communities
at risk," Fraser said.

Councillors acknowledged Fraser's views and requested  that the town's
staff work with the model bylaw  presented by Fraser - a bylaw already
in place in other  B.C. municipalities - with an eye to quick adoption. 
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MAP posted-by: SHeath(DPF Florida)