Pubdate: Tue, 5 Aug 2008
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Matthew Claxton
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


Pot growing operations will likely soon be under PSIT scrutiny once

The Public Safety Inspection Teams will be back on duty soon, after
being shut down following a theft accusation against a Township
firefighter in the spring.

"We expect they'll be up and running again in the fall," said Township
Mayor Kurt Alberts.

In early May, there was an accusation made that a Township firefighter
on the team had stolen a halogen worklight and two batteries from one
of the homes being inspected.

The accusation came from another member of the team. Charges have
since been forwarded to Crown counsel about the incident, according to
fire department spokesperson assistant chief Bruce Ferguson.

During the time the team was shut down, an outside independent review
of the way it operated was completed by a Surrey fire department
member, said Alberts.

The review compared how the Langley PSIT worked compared to other,
similar forces around the province.

With the review done, the teams should be up to speed again soon,
although no exact date has been set.

The PSIT was formed more than a year ago using new provincial
legislation as its base.

The legal change allowed municipalities to get electric consumption
data from BC Hydro for individual homes and businesses.

If the power use was very high, it might indicate that a home was
being used as a marijuana grow operation, because grow ops use high
powered lights and other gear.

Once homes were identified, a team consisting of a Township bylaw
officer, two RCMP officers, an electrical inspector, a clerical worker
and a firefighter began an investigation.

They would check out suspected properties from the road and look for
signs that there might be a legitimate use for the

Some of the homes on the list turned out to be the locations of
home-based businesses or avid power tool users.

Once they suspected a home to be a grow op, the team would move in to
make an electrical inspection. They had to give 24 hours notice to

In many cases, they found the remnants of hastily dismantled grow ops.
Sometimes they found plants still there.

More than 220 were found or disrupted during the course of that first

The legal reason for the team is that high electricity use and grow
ops are a fire hazard. The RCMP members couldn't make any arrests as a
result of the team's activities, because there were no criminal search
warrants for any of the homes.

However, pot was confiscated and owners of the homes had to pay to
clean up unsafe wiring.

Langley City does not have a similar full-time team, but other Lower
Mainland communities have tried their own versions. Surrey and
Coquitlam's teams have recently come under legal fire. In Coquitlam, a
Lions Club fundraiser was targeted, apparently because a hot tub used
too much power. He was told his power would be cut.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake