HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html City Faces Lawsuit Over Safety Inspection
Pubdate: Wed, 19 Nov 2008
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Abbotsford News
Author: Rochelle Baker
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Abbotsford's Public Safety Inspection Team, which targets illegal
marijuana grow operations, is under fire in the courts again.

An Abbotsford couple is suing the City of Abbotsford in B.C. Supreme
Court, saying the safety inspection team conducted an illegal search
of their home.

The city is already seeking legal advice around a recent B.C. Supreme
Court decision - based on a case involving a similar program in Surrey
- - which allows the city to inspect suspected grow-ops, but now forbids
police from attending to protect city bylaw officers.

Jay Teichroeb, city spokesman, said last week it's not clear how the
ruling will impact Abbotsford's inspection team.

"Of paramount importance to the city is the safety of its employees,
while still balancing that with the need to ensure our neighbourhoods
are safe."

In the civil suit, Glenn Ferraz and Monica Woykin filed a statement of
claim last Thursday alleging police and bylaw officials lacked
sufficient grounds to search their home in the 35800 block of Regal
Parkway on May 13. The couple assert Woykin was in the residence with
her child when the inspection team and Abbotsford Police attended the

However, she didn't answer the door out of "fear and panic" and
because she was "confused and upset."

The inspection team departed, leaving behind a notice demanding entry
to the home to conduct an inspection.

The inspection team returned the next day to conduct the inspection
under the authority of the city's Controlled Substance Property Bylaw
and the Fire Services Act.

Ferraz initially refused, asking the team to disclose on what grounds
it was carrying out the search.

The officials did not reveal the grounds of the search and said they
would return with a search warrant if denied entry.

Ferraz relented as long as the police did not enter the

The couple state no criminal charges or bylaw violations were filed
against them as a result of the search, and they are seeking damages
from the city.

They claim the search was 'ultra vires', or beyond the power or
authority of the city's bylaw, and their Charter rights were violated
by an unreasonable search that resulted in a invasion of privacy and
public embarrassment and humiliation.

Woykin also asserts a pre-existing depression was exacerbated by the
search. The City of Abbotsford has not yet filed a statement of defence.

The city's public safety team acts on tips from the public or on
finding abnormally high water or hydro use readings to conduct
inspections on properties suspected of housing a grow-op.

Officials post a 48-hour notice of inspection of the door of homes
facing inspection before attending with police. If any city bylaws or
fire and building codes are violated, the city puts a no-occupancy
notice on the property.
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