HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Landlords Paying For Grow Op Costs
Pubdate: Tue, 08 Nov 2005
Source: Maple Ridge Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc


Landlords harbouring marijuana grow operations have coughed up 
$142,000 to the Maple Ridge since a new anti-pot bylaw was passed 10 
months ago, district staff say.

The first of 39 grow ops was raided under the new bylaw in January, 
said municipal bylaws officer Brock McDonald.

Under the bylaw, the owner of the raided property is responsible for 
the costs incurred by the RCMP and district staff, and the home has 
to be completely repaired and inspected before it can be rented out 
or occupied in any way again.

The RCMP have taken the lion's share of the fines and fees so far, 
with $97,939 charged to landlords just for the police costs.

The Building Special Inspection Fee has added $10,800, the 
Re-Occupancy fee another $9,000 and the Fire Department has charged 
$8,644. There have also been $15,987 in other charges.

McDonald said that once a building is raided, the district puts up 
"no occupancy" notices, and the owners have to come to the hall and 
pay a $300 special inspection fee immediately.

After that, building, electrical and plumbing inspectors are sent to 
identify any problems that need to be cleared up.

Many grow ops are structurally unsound, with walls knocked down or 
damaged, unsafe wiring to steal power and fuel hydroponic lights, and 
water damage.

An occupational or industrial hygienist then tests the air quality of 
the building, looking for unsafe levels of toxins, fungi and molds 
often associated with illegal drug production.

The district then picks up another $200 to $250 fee to issue a 
re-occupancy certificate.

"That's much better than the old days, when we didn't recover any 
costs," said McDonald.

Landlords can avoid paying the worst of the costs - the payment to 
the RCMP for their staff time and resources - by turning in anyone 
they find growing pot or setting up a meth lab on their property.

If the landlord comes to the police and tips them off, those costs 
are waived, and just the usual remediation charges will need to be paid.

The high fees may be causing a problem with some landlords, suggested 
Coun. Craig Speirs. He talked to at least one landlord who said he 
wouldn't turn in a grow op if he found one, to avoid paying the charges.

McDonald believes that in most cases it is in the landlord's best 
interest to report the crimes and save some money. They will have to 
rebuild any pot-damaged buildings regardless of whether they are caught.
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