Pubdate: Fri, 04 Jun 2010
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Langley Times
Author: Monique Tamminga


Langley Township's fire chief wants to see its Public Safety
Inspection Team up and running again, despite a recent B.C. Court of
Appeal ruling.

The court ruling said the inspections violate people's basic Charter

"We will follow the court's direction, but we haven't changed our
opinion on the value of the inspection team," said fire chief Doug

"Our lawyers had drafted a new bylaw so we are hoping by the year's
end that the team will be up and running again."

He said the Township's lawyer will take look at the draft bylaw as it
pertains to the ruling.

The ruling means that the team will have to take one extra step and
obtain administrative warrants, he said.

"We've had to get those before. We have to go to Burnaby for that so
we aren't sure if we can work with Surrey and Abbotsford and appoint
one person to get the warrants and we don't know if we have to get
each warrant individually," he said.

When the team was up and running, it would inspect six to eight homes
a week.

Team members managed to shut off electricity to more than 200 grows in
six months before being shut down for a criminal investigation against
one of the team's firefighters. A lawsuit against the team is still

The criminal investigation resulted in an absolute discharge of the
firefighter and the lawsuit against the Township is still in the
"conversation" stage, Wade said.

The team would visit homes where BC Hydro reported higher-than-normal
power consumption.

The occupants would get a warning notice that they have 72 hours to
allow an inspection, otherwise power would be shut to the home. On
many occasions, grow operators pack up the marijuana before inspectors

Both Surrey and Pitt Meadows have indicated that the court decision
will not disband the inspection teams.

In Arkinstall v. City of Surrey in 2008, a B.C. Supreme Court Judge
ruled that Surrey could continue the program without police, using
municipal teams to spot the errant wiring.

But the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that the program violates the basic
Charter rights of residents, even to allow a municipal inspector into
the home.

In the Arkinstall vs. City of Surrey case, Arkinstall had a 5,000
square feet home with an indoor pool and sauna and reported higher
consumption of electricity.

When the Surrey inspection team came to investigate, Arkinstall
welcomed them in but not the police officers.

In the end, power was shut off to the home for a short time and no
evidence ever surfaced that Arkinstall had a grow op in his home.

The draft bylaw for the new inspection team is expected to be in front
of Township council in June or July. 
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