Pubdate: Fri, 14 Aug 2015
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Langley Times
Author: Dan Ferguson


Walnut Grove House With a Legal Marijuana Grow-Op Frustrates Neighbours

Frustrated residents of a Walnut Grove neighbourhood say they would 
have been better off with an illegal grow-op instead of the licensed 
medicinal marijuana growing operation that operates out of a house on 
their street.

Because the owner of the house has a Health Canada licence to grow 
the marijuana, neither the Langley RCMP or the Township of Langley 
bylaw enforcement office can close it down.

It has been a maddening experience for Margaret and her husband Paul, 
who live on one side of the grow-op, while Chris and Elizabeth live 
on the other (For safety reasons, The Times is not using their last 
names nor divulging their addresses).

Both couples moved into the neighbourhood of recently-built, larger 
homes with generous backyards about a year ago.

They noticed no one seemed to be living in the modern two-storey 
house between them.

The backyard was neglected and overgrown and the owner, a man who 
appeared to be in his 30s, hardly ever seemed to be around.

When they did speak to him, he was polite, but nervous, they said.

Then the unmistakable odour of marijuana began to waft from the house.

They first thought it was an illegal operation and went to the 
police, only to discover, in late July, that the owner was a licensed 
medicinal grower.

"I have no rights in this," Margaret said.

"I can't do anything about this."

She put a sign on her front lawn that reads "grow-ops do not belong 
in residential neighbourhoods."

Paul is concerned about the potential fire hazard posed by running a 
grow operation in a house that is clearly not designed to serve as a 

Both couples expressed concern that criminals would discover the 
grow-op location and attempt to rob it.

"What if they (criminals) go to the wrong house?" Chris said.

They also expressed concern about the possible health hazard posed by 
the fumes from the pot plants, especially to the young children who 
live on the street.

They said the various authorities they've contacted have told them 
they can't close the growers down.

"No one wants to help," Elizabeth said.

She wants the federal candidates running in Langley to answer a question.

"How would you feel if the home beside you was an entire grow-op?"

There are more than 600 medicinal grow-ops in Langley, according to 
Township estimates.

They were all supposed to close last year, when all of the 
small-scale growing licences issued by the federal government were 
set to expire under new medicinal marijuana regulations that took 
effect April 1.

The new laws would have banned growing in residential areas and 
switched to a system of large-scale bulk marijuana cultivation.

To prepare for the new federal law, the Township of Langley approved 
changes to the municipal property safety bylaw that would impose a 
fine of at least $500 and as much as $10,000 a day on any small 
growers if they continued cultivating pot plants after the law 
changed (Langley City imposed similar restrictions).

But the Township bylaw is unenforceable, because a court battle has 
delayed the new federal regulations from taking effect.

When the small growers objected to being eliminated and went to 
court, they managed to obtained an injunction.

As a result, the new federal law is in limbo.

The Federal Court of Canada is expected to decide whether the 
injunction should be made permanent within the next couple of months.

Most observers expect whatever the ruling is, there will be an 
appeal, extending the current situation another year or two.

That leaves municipalities with limited tools to handle complaints 
abut grow-ops.

They can order grow-ops to improve their air filtering to reduce, if 
not eliminate odours, and they can inspect houses with grow-ops to 
make sure they don't present fire or other safety hazards.

In response to the Walnut Grove residents' complaints, the Township 
bylaw enforcement department has sent a letter to the owner and an 
inspection has been scheduled.

No one responded last Saturday when a Times reporter knocked on the 
front door of the house.

There was also no response to a note left on the door inviting the 
owner to contact the newspaper to give his side.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom