News

City shuts 150 grow-ops: 2006

The City of Abbotsford inspected and shut down 150 grow-ops last year, according to information released this week.

It is the second successive year that the city has had the tools to tackle the issue, after it formed its Grow-op Public Safety Pilot Program in 2005.

That initiative, which became permanent in 2006, allows city inspectors to enter properties they suspect contain marijuana grow operations.

Of the 150 inspections, the city says approximately 90 per cent were in urban neighbourhoods, 10 per cent were in rural areas and less than one per cent were in commercial zones.

And according to the city, local fire officials have said there was an 80 per cent reduction in grow-op related fires in 2006.

“Grow-ops pose a significant health and safety hazard to the neighbourhoods in which they are operating,” said Abbotsford Mayor George Ferguson.

“Our program has made the neighbourhoods safer.”

Ferguson said the city’s Public Safety Inspection Division analyzes data provided by B.C. Hydro before an inspection.

But the mayor, pointing to some news reports that suggest Abbotsford has an unusually high hydro usage per capita, said that does not necessarily mean a property contains a grow-op.

According to the city, of the 1,063 houses identified by B.C. Hydro as having higher than normal electricity use, approximately 45 per cent were farm-related and another 20 per cent were multi-family developments.

Ferguson said eight per cent of the identified properties fitted the city’s “validation process” and were investigated for grow-ops.

“Abbotsford is a very large agricultural community and a lot of legitimate agricultural operations consume large amounts of power,” he continued.

“Abbotsford applies a strict validation process to ensure we are inspecting properties that are using power illegitimately.”

The Public Safety Inspection Division now inspects an average of 32 properties per month. There is no backlog of inspections, according to city officials.

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