HYDRO TO ROOT OUT GROW OPS
Suspicious Homes To Lose Power
By ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU CHIEF
HYDRO OFFICIALS will soon be able to cut off power to homes without
warning if they suspect an illegal marijuana grow operation, Community
Safety Minister Monte Kwinter said. Kwinter said he will introduce
legislation this fall to give hydro companies the legal authority to
act swiftly against suspected pot labs.
"Someone will be able to cut off your power without telling you about
it, without notice, because we think you're doing something illegal,"
People must prove they're not operating a pot grow house to get their
power back, he said.
Kwinter said the government also intends to get building inspectors,
realtors, banks and insurance companies all working with police to
eradicate the "scourge" of illegal grow ops, which steal an estimated
$80 million a year in electricity and pose serious safety hazards.
Kwinter said police need proof to obtain a warrant to enter a home.
"And it's really difficult to get a warrant when you can't tell them
what's in there," he said.
Building inspectors, who are already entitled to enter structures to
investigate potential safety risks, will be called in to examine
suspicious homes and report any criminality they find.
The minister said banks will begin specifying in mortgage documents
that the whole amount becomes due if a grow operation is discovered.
Insurance companies will also void coverage for grow ops.
"These are things that these various sectors will put in because they
suddenly realize that they're the ones that are left holding the bag,"
Mark Burton, a spokesman for Toronto Hydro, said grow ops often tap
directly into main lines to avoid high meter readings. If the house
still has power after being cut off, hydro officials would know that
there's been an "energy diversion," he said.