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Port Coquitlam pans grow ops

A group of Citadel Heights residents want the city of Port Coquitlam to intervene and stop a licensed marijuana grow operation in a home in their neighbourhood. - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
A group of Citadel Heights residents want the city of Port Coquitlam to intervene and stop a licensed marijuana grow operation in a home in their neighbourhood.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

A group of Citadel Heights residents want the city of Port Coquitlam to intervene and stop a licensed marijuana grow operation in a home in their neighbourhood.

Doug McRae, who lives in the area, said residents surrounding the house are scared that the neighbourhood could be a target for criminal activity, putting other homeowners in danger.

“Think about a house or grow op being raided by gun-carrying criminals,” he told council during Monday night’s meeting. “That is what the people in Governor Court and Royal Court are living with everyday.”

He said councillors need to come up with actions to make it clear that marijuana grow operators are not welcome in PoCo — licensed or not.

Keith Harrison, a resident of the area since 1989, said the smells coming from the house have hurt his quality of life. He also said he has noticed an increase in vehicle traffic to the home since the grow operation began.

“What is the difference between a licensed grow operation and an illegal one?” he said. “There should be no growing commercial plants inside residential houses.”

Mayor Greg Moore said he shares residents’ concerns but added there is little the city can do. Many municipalities have struggled with similar issues, he added, noting that Surrey has recently sent letters to the federal government calling for changes to the medical marijuana regulations.

 

OUTRAGE

Moore said that the house in Citadel Heights has been inspected and is not in violation of any building codes and is adhering to the rules set out in its grow licence.

“We share your outrage that the federal government allowed this to occur,” he said. “If it is a permitted use, the federal government says this can be allowed in a municipality, we are not allowed to ban that use.”

In December, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced the federal government was poised to eliminate licensed medical marijuana grow ops in homes and shift to a new system involving commercial producers.

Civic officials have argued that most home growers are producing far more plants than they require, and the program has been criticized for safety concerns and connections to the illegal drug trade.

The federal Ministry of Health said it intends to implement the system by March 31, 2014, at which point all current licences to possess or produce pot would expire.

The government is holding a comment period for the public to give feedback on the proposal; for more information, go to www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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