B.C. politician moves to scrap controversial grow-op bylaw
By Sam Cooper, Postmedia NewsJanuary 19, 2011
Stacy Gowanlock holds the $5,200 inspection fee for unusually high electricity usage in his backyard near his hot tub and swimming pool in Mission on Saturday, November 6, 2010. The City of Mission suspected he had a grow-op in his home because of his high electricity consumption which he says was due to the faulty wiring of his hot tub. The city not finding anything sent him the safety inspection bill. That policy is now under fire.
****Photograph by: Les Bazso, PNG
VANCOUVER — A controversial bylaw that gives authorities in Mission, B.C., the power to fine homeowners for the cost of searching their properties for marijuana grow ops — even if police find nothing — is under attack on two fronts.
A Mission municipal councillor is seeking to rescind the bylaw, and 74 residents have reportedly joined to file a class-action lawsuit against the district.
As the Vancouver Province reported recently, a number of Mission residents have complained that their homes were searched for pot grow ops and they were slapped with fees and repair orders costing upward of $10,000 — all on questionable evidence.
On Tuesday, Coun. Jenny Stevens asked that a motion to rescind the bylaw be considered by Mission council on Monday.
“I’ve become increasingly concerned about the bylaw to the point I’m saying . . . are the negative consequences outweighing the benefits?” said Stevens.
“If (dissent) is getting this vociferous, you need to look at the beginning of the problem, which is this bylaw.”
On Tuesday evening, more than 100 bylaw critics attended an emotional meeting in Mission’s library to air concerns, said Mission resident Stacy Gowanlock.
Gowanlock — who said his house was searched in 2009 and hit with thousands in fees and repair orders despite the fact that he’d never grown marijuana in his home — said 74 citizens at the meeting signed onto the class-action lawsuit he is leading.
In mid-December, B.C Civil Liberties Association’s Micheal Vonn led a delegation to Mission’s council, warning grounds for a class-action suit are strong, and searches are “putting innocent people under horrible duress.”
On Wednesday Vonn said the BCCLA intends to join the class-action suit — a statement of claim is being drafted, and it is expected to be filed soon.
“Our opinion is, fining people for imaginary grow ops does nothing to increase safety in Mission,” she said.
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