City wants Health Canada to release legal grow-op locations

Local resolution will be brought forward to UBCM meeting

The city would like for Health Canada to release the locations of legal grow-ops.

The city would like for Health Canada to release the locations of legal grow-ops.

Abbotsford will call for Health Canada to release the addresses of legal home grow-ops in a resolution that will go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) meeting next week.

UBCM brings together representatives from municipalities across the province. The municipalities vote on resolutions, which are taken to higher levels of government or other organizations.

A new federal medical marijuana system set to end legal grow-ops in homes in favour of large-scale commercial operations was intended to take effect on April 1. But a federal court judge granted a temporary injunction allowing those with personal production licenses to continue to grow medical marijuana at home, pending the outcome of a constitutional challenge that has yet to be heard. The federal government has appealed the injunction and is awaiting a decision.

Mayor Bruce Banman said that as Health Canada will change the rules on the old system, Abbotsford would like to know where the home grows are located. He said Abbotsford has more than 800 licences, but the city is only aware of the location of about 100 home grows.

“The big concern that this city has is are these places safe? What electrical modifications were made? What building modifications were made? When they shut down what assurances do we have that these homes will be restored?”

Banman said the concerns carry over to the implementation to the new program, which allows for large commercial grow-ops to set up with approval from Health Canada.

But Banman said that with Abbotsford’s large geographical area, the city thinks they “should have the ability to restrict or regulate where these go.”

Abbotsford has passed a bylaw prohibiting grow-ops on residential and industrial land. A bylaw to ban them on agricultural land, which requires approval from the provincial ministry of agriculture, was denied by the province.

Banman said that much of Abbotsford borders on the U.S. and it could be concerning for officials to have grow-ops near the border. He added that if grow-ops are placed in far corners of the community, it would be difficult for police and fire to reach them. If the resolutions are passed, UBCM will petition Health Canada to release the locations of existing grow-ops, and to undertake ongoing and regular monitoring and enforcement for the new commercial grows.

Banman said it’s important to bring the resolutions forward as the province “always pays attention to what happens at UBCM,” which will be held starting Monday in Whistler.