Council approves fees for grow op inspections

(Gazette file photo)

McAuley likens process to burn permit applications



Council approved a motion on Tuesday which will introduce a new fee for inspections of marijuana grow operations in the municipality.

The motion creates a new marijuana grow op inspection fee of $355 for the first 185.81 square metres (2,000 square feet) and $45 for each additional 185.81 square metres.

The Municipal Act was amended by Bill 128, which recently received Royal Assent. The changes include a provincewide strategy to curb the threat of indoor grow operations to municipalities. The act requires municipalities to inspect a former grow op property upon written notification from police in order to make sure the building is safe. If the municipal clerk is notified in writing, it is the municipality’s responsibility to ensure an inspection is conducted within a reasonable time. The municipality has no charge for such inspections at this time.

Councillors originally discussed the matter at their Oct. 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

“Currently, we do not have any protocol or procedure in place if we are notified of grow operations taking place in a building,” County clerk Kim White told councillors at the meeting. “We have not had an illegal grow operation provided to me in writing yet, but we would like to be prepared if we do.”

A staff report presented to councillors at the Oct. 12 meeting says detecting, investigation, and dismantling marijuana grow operations and returning buildings to legitimate use is a complex process that requires co-operation between municipal officials and police.

Buildings used to grow marijuana can often be modified in various ways that could pose a threat, the report says. Holes can be chopped in floors, electricity is often stolen, and there can be exposed live wires on the property. The report says carbon monoxide can be introduced into the building and moisture can reach unsustainable levels. Unknown chemicals can be present, often left unmarked or in alternate containers.

Engineering, development, and works commissioner Robert McAuley said from a bylaw enforcement perspective, the inspection wouldn’t be much different than an ordinary property standards inspection.

“Illegal, legal — we don’t care, it’s a make-safe inspection,” he said.

He said it’s essentially no different than the fee for a municipal burn permit.

“We charge back the cost of getting a burn permit — if you didn’t get a burn permit, we charge back the cost for our response to your out-of-control fire,” he said.

Municipal staff will inspect the property for these dangers and the inspector will take whatever action authorized by law to make the building safe and otherwise protect the public, the report says.

The report says the municipality hasn’t been advised in writing by Prince Edward OPP or the fire department about any grow operations in the municipality.