Pubdate: Fri, 01 Feb 2008
Source: Goldstream Gazette (Victoria, CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Goldstream News Gazette
Author: Amy Dove


Drug dealers beware - View Royal is set to impose stricter grow-op and
drug lab penalties.

A draft safe premises bylaw will go before council for first reading
next week. If approved, the town would join Colwood, Langford and
other communities in stricter penalties for property owners if
grow-ops are found on their land.

While the Town does not have legal jurisdiction over drug operations,
they can evict residents from homes deemed unsafe due to drug labs or
unauthorized buildings alterations.

At the crux of the bylaw is the power to make homeowners pay to
remediate damaged homes.

"We can control health and safety," confirmed Sarah Jones, director of
corporate administration.

The bylaw would come into effect after RCMP have cleared the scene.
Upon a building inspection, the home owner - whether they live there
or rent it out - would be financially responsible for repairs. Often
in buildings with drug labs or grow operations, hydro meters will be
bypassed to avoid detection or illegal venting systems are installed.
Hazards arise from the accumulation of chemicals or mould in a
building. Under the new bylaw, the building would have to be repaired
and a special safety inspection passed within 30 days of detection.

The Town would conduct such inspections for $1,500. Any unpaid fees at
the end of the year would be added to property tax. The bylaw differs
from those of other West Shore communities in terms of fines.

Under the Colwood and Langford bylaws, the homeowner is responsible
for all services, not one base cost.

"Very quickly a homeowner can end up incurring $40,000 to $60,000 in
costs," said Colwood bylaw officer Kevin Atkinson.

"It's a fee for service to make sure the house is safe for the next
family that moves in."

A base fee for inspection is $500, with additional fees for equipment,
employee hours and administration. A homeowner is only responsible for
many of the additional costs if Colwood uncovers the problem property.
All inspections initiated by the RCMP or emergency services are not at
the cost of the homeowner.

View Royal chose a more simplistic fee formula because of the Town's
small staff, Jones said.

To date, Langford and Colwood have not used the bylaw.

View Royal council will consider first reading of the bylaw at the
Feb. 5 council meeting.
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MAP posted-by: Steve Heath