July 28, 2010
A Wentworth Street North property being investigated for hundreds of barrels of unknown substances found piled outside is now the subject of a criminal investigation. Hamilton police say they have found slightly more than 1,000 marijuana plants in the plant.
The value is being estimated at more than $1 million.
Police spokeswoman Catherine Martin said the plants were found during a search of the building at Wentworth and Burton streets earlier today by police and members of the vice and drug squad.
Vice and drug officers remain at the scene at this hour. The site is in between Barton Street East and Burlington Street East.
Police said they were alerted to the situation through a tip to Crime Stoppers.
Martin said no charges have been laid following the discovery, but the investigation is ongoing.
Hydro to the building has been shut down and Martin said there is indications of illegal electrical hookups on the site.
The owner of the property says the barrels were left by a previous owner.
Harry Tamber said he purchased the 350 Wentworth St. N. property in 2008 with the hope of turning it into a hot-dip metal galvanizing facility.
He claims the barrels were there and that he was told by two past owners they would be cleaned up within six months of purchase. But that never happened, so he's launched legal action.
Larry Friday, the city's director of taxation, said he has spoken with Tamber and believed the matter was being settled in a civil suit. The status of the civil case is unclear.
Tamber said it would cost upwards of $400,000 to clean up the barrels.
The Ministry of the Environment investigation was sparked Monday after complaints from community blogger and activist Matt Jelly. The warehouse-sized building and yard are set back from the street along a laneway. There is one tenant, who produces shipping pallets, occupying a corner of the building.
Many of the barrels, piled in an overgrown area near railroad tracks, are labelled as sealants or lubricants. Others are marked as creosote oil or sludge.
Protective Barriers Inc. operated on the site until 2006.
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