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Maple Ridge gearing up for grow op clean up

Maple Ridge is taking steps to ensure it can clean up illegal medical grow ops by writing a new bylaw and hiring two more staff.

The extra enforcement will cost taxpayers another $130,000 yearly, if council approves the Safe Premises Bylaw.

The extra money will be required to pay for a bylaw officer ($70,000 yearly,) $49,000 for a bylaw clerk and $10,000 for a vehicle.

The bylaw, introduced for discussion at a council meeting last week, would replace a bylaw from a decade ago, by clarifying definitions and increasing fees to ensure as many costs are recovered as possible.

For example, a homeowner could pay a $500 flat fee just for having bylaws show up to his or her house.

With enforcement against personal medical grow operations on hold until a court challenge is completed, Maple Ridge can’t yet act to clean up such operations.

But if the challenge is defeated and federal law is upheld, that makes illegal small personal medical marijuana production in favour of large-scale operations, the Safe Premises Bylaw could be used to remove the remaining personal medical marijuana grow operations.

The approach would be a gradual one, said bylaws director Liz Holitzki.

Health Canada would provide addresses of personal medical marijuana grow operations that haven’t shut down under the new law.

Bylaws then would contact those homeowners or visit the homes.

Depending on the level of response, required fees could climb beyond that.

For example, homeowners could be billed $78 an hour to have a deputy fire chief on scene.

To have a fire truck roll up would cost $300 an hour, while a bylaw director on site could cost $80 an hour.

Council received the proposal for initial discussion. Formal introduction of the bylaw could come next month.

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