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Saanich grow-op bust puts municipality on the hook

By Hempology | January 20, 2005

Saanich already has a culprit to deal with through its fledgling anti-grow-op bylaw itself.

BY JEFF BELL Times Colonist staff

Mayor Frank Leonard said Saanich will do a full round of repairs and inspections at a municipally-owned property where a basement marijuana operation was discovered last weekend.
Leonard said having the grow-op uncovered while a bylaw is in the works is delicious irony. The bust, just a few hundred metres from the Saanich police station and municipal hall, was made Sunday in the 3800-block of Lancaster Road, near Swan Lake.
Days earlier, Saanich councillors had given unanimous assent to a draft of a bylaw aimed at ensuring homes used for grow-ops or drug labs are properly repaired after the activities have been discovered. The bylaw has yet to make its way through the official approval process.
Were going to do everything required of us as though the bylaw was already in place, Leonard said. The point of the bylaw is to make sure the home is safe for the new tenants, and were going to do that.
The grow-op contained about 125 plants and various pieces of equipment with a combined value of about $50,000.
It was obviously undetected through inspection by our property-management staff, Leonard said. It can happen to anyone.
The tenants are being evicted. A 38-year-old man and 36-year-old woman are to appear in court in March.
The Saanich bylaw would be the second on Vancouver Island, following one passed in Courtenay in April 2003.
Dave Slobodian, Courtenays director of regulatory services, said the bylaw has been used 15 times since it was brought in.
The minimum cost to the owner has been approximately $2,000, and the highest has been around $5,000.
The $5,000 included charging the owner for fire services after drug activity caused a blaze, he said.
The bylaw has been especially valuable in providing the municipality and the RCMP with a means of co-operating on their dealings with grow-ops, Slobodian said.
Were called to the scene as soon as the occupants are removed. We assess the house and then in most cases weve stopped occupancy until the home is renovated.

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