B.C. needs to track and record houses used as marijuana-growing operations and set standards for remediation, municipal leaders were told last week.
If potential homebuyers discover that a house has been used as a grow-op, they are often told the house has been remediated, Kevin Neufeld, director of the B.C. Real Estate Association, told a Union of B.C. Municipalities forum in Victoria.
"But what does remediated mean? There's no standard in the Fraser Valley and I'm sure there's no standard in B.C.," he said.
"It can mean everything from totally brought back to code with air sample reports provided, to as little as 'let's shampoo the carpets and paint the walls.' "
Existing searchable data is piecemeal and inconsistent, Clare said.
Several years ago, the B.C. Real Estate Association amended its standard property disclosure statement to require sellers to tell buyers if they were aware that their property had been used as a growing operation or for the manufacture of illegal drugs.
But it's not a stretch to assume that someone willing to ignore laws on growing marijuana might also be willing to lie, Neufeld said.
"The solution has to be a provincial process for remediation that will create a level of confidence that when it's done and disclosed as being remediated, families will know it's a safe house to move into, banks will know it's a safe house to loan money against, and insurance companies will know it's a safe house to insure," he said.
In 2010, there were an estimated 13,500 active grow-ops in B.C., said Joe Clare, Surrey strategic planning analyst.
Only about one-third of the operations come to the attention of the police, primarily through tips.
It doesn't matter whether a grow-op is licensed or not, Clare said. Drug operations can leave homes with significant electrical and structural problems; issues with mould and problems with insurability.
Clare said a standardized remediation process would see municipalities issue a do-not-occupy order when a grow-op is discovered. They would then outline standardized steps for the property owner to undertake before the property can be occupied again.
That would mean hiring a certified environmental consultant to determine the scope of the work and monitor the remediation process. Certified contractors would be required to get permits and the consultant would have to sign off when the work is completed. A permanent record would then be attached to the property. email@example.com
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