Grow ops can’t go anywhere

One problem is the federal government hasn't provided people with info they need

Don Daunais, electrical safety inspector for the city of Maple Ridge, said just because someone has a licence to grow marijuana doesn’t mean they can grow pot anywhere they like.

Daunais said the fire that recently broke out at grow op on 121B Avenue in Maple Ridge is a  good example. The occupants of the house may have had a licence, but that doesn’t mean they can grow it in a residential area.

The city’s bylaw, which was revised in April of 2014, when the federal government changed the growing regulations, prohibits growing marijuana in residential areas. Any grow ops must be on land zoned for agricultural purposes, said Daunais.

It’s up to the recipient of that licence to check out whether they can in fact grow their product where they want to grow it, said Daunais.

Daunais said most people who obtain a licence are under the impression they can grow where they please. He said part of the problem lies at the feet of the federal government for not providing people with all the information.

He said the biggest concern with grow ops like the one on 121B Avenue in Maple Ridge is the quality of the set-up.

“Here’s a prime example of what happens,” said Daunais. “I go to countless grow ops that have fires in them, and they are all due to shoddy instillations by so-called electrical people that really aren’t.”

He said the building in question had wires coming right out of the face of the electrical panel into an underground run out to the shop.

“It’s pretty scary,” he said.

Ridge Meadows RCMP are investigation the fire.

Crime in city

Residents grilled Maple Ridge council and RCMP last week about crime in the city.

Karen Leo wanted to know what the neighbours could do to help police shut down drug houses in her area.

Another resident had the same questions.

RCMP Supt. Dave Fleugel urged them to call police any time they have a concern. That will allow police to continue to make a case against any troublesome premises.

But it takes an “incredible amount” of evidence to get a search warrant, Fleugel explained.

Fleugel pointed out that the Metro Vancouver area is a port city and it’s not realistic to think that drugs will ever be eliminated entirely. But police are focusing on drug crime.

And even when a house is raided and a drug suspect is arrested and charged, police have no say on whether he stays in jail or comes back to the house.

That’s frustrating for police, he added.

Ron Rogers, who just moved to Maple Ridge, told council he’s fed up with a house near where he lives in the downtown. Vehicles arrive and depart regularly from the house and he says prostitution takes place there.

“This house is a problem. What are you going to do about this property?”

But again, to get a search warrant, requires police to prove there’s drugs or stolen property inside.

“I’ve always enjoyed living in Maple Ridge until the last year,” added Rick Armstrong. He’s not in favour of the temporary homeless shelter that’s set op open on Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street in October.

“I’m totally against them being all warm and fuzzy in a building [emergency shelter] for the winter.”


‘Don’t quote me’

Ridge Meadows RCMP have returned to splitting up the duties of telling people about what’s going on in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

For the last few months, a retired officer had been commenting directly about crime.

Now, while the retired officer, now a civilian, remains the chief media liaison, actual quotes or attributable details can only come from a serving RCMP officer.

Depending on availability and time limits, that often results in stories about crime without any official police comment or attribution.

Ridge Meadows commanding officer Supt. Dave Fleugel said the civilian employee, “is a consistent resource who works core hours Monday to Friday and is generally the first point of contact for media inquiries.”

His main job is to respond to media questions and to help media access one of the official spokespersons for the department.

RCMP have turned over many duties to civilians in order to save money and put more officers into front-line policing.


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