By Alfa · May 6, 2005 ·
  1. Alfa

    If B.C. Hydro is turning a blind eye to residents who use excessive amounts of electricity to produce illegal marijuana the matter should be investigated by Rich Coleman, the Solicitor General and the Minister of Public Safety, Township council says.

    According to MP Mark Warawa, Hydro upgraded a townhouse complex in Coquitlam where police recently discovered 28 marijuana grow-ops.

    Warawa accused the utility of benefiting from crime by profiting from the extra consumption of power.

    Hydro has defended its action, saying that the Freedom of Information Act prohibits it from notifying police if a grow-op exists in a customer's premises.

    "If a customer has higher consumption and if they are paying for it, it is none of our concern," Hydro spokesman Elisha Moreno told The Times.

    The issue was raised by the Community Safety Commission which urged council to ask Coleman to work with Hydro "to flag unusual energy bills," and compel Hydro to notify police.

    Council also wants Coleman to comment on the committee's request that hydroponic supply stores and pawn shops be reviewed. Councillor Muriel Arnason opposed council's direction. "Make it legal," the veteran councillor said. "It seems to me this is the only way to do it."

    Once the elements of greed and profit are removed, illegal activity will stop, she added.

    Referring to the March 3 murders of four Alberta RCMP officers who stumbled across a grow-op as they were repossessing the grower's truck, Arnason said: "I don't want to see any more of our RCMP officers killed."

    Councillor Kim Richter suggested that the Township be more forceful, and proposed that the municipality become part of a pilot project in Surrey.

    The fire department and electrical inspectors will perform preliminary inspections regarding power consumption, electrical permits and exterior improvements. If a grow-op is suspected, the occupant will have 72 hours to permit an inspection before power to the home is cut off.

    "We should ask Langley to be a pilot project," said Richter. "Langley has a significant problem and we should not be ostriches about it."

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