Public Safety Inspection Program
Public Safety Inspection Program
The Public Safety Inspection program is no longer operational and there is no longer a dedicated inspection team.
The District will continue to work with the RCMP to assess/inspect police-led controlled substance properties.
The District has initiated a review of all property files that received an inspection that was not led by the RCMP.
Background on the Public Safety Inspection Team (PSIT)
The Public Safety Inspection Team (PSIT) in the District of Mission operated under the framework established in the Controlled Substance Property Bylaw and consisted of a fire inspector, building inspector, and electrician. The PSIT was established in Mission in 2008 after much public consultation and had a goal of making homes safe and ridding the District of Mission of controlled substance properties. This page gives a brief overview of the program, some background on how it was established and provides links to the summary report delivered to District Council on March 7, 2011.
The report stems from a full review of the PSIT and controlled property substance bylaw initiated by Council on January 24, 2011. At that time, Council deferred all PSIT inspections except those referred by the RCMP for 30 days – this deferral has since been extended indefinitely.
In May of 2006, the Province of British Columbia amended the Safety Standards Act to allow local governments access to electrical consumption information from BC Hydro, as excessive electricity consumption is often an indicator of a serious safety hazard. This was after the Province was requested to do so by a number of individual municipalities as well as the Union of BC Municipalities. Properties which exceed the mandated threshold of 93 kwh/day would be reviewed and inspected. This is the foundation upon which public safety inspection teams have operated in 10 communities throughout the Lower Mainland, including Surrey, Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Langley City, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Richmond and Mission.
The District of Mission was one of the last communities in the Lower Mainland to adopt a controlled substance property bylaw and initiate property inspections. Programs of this nature are operated in municipalities throughout the Province and were developed after substantive consultation with all levels of government and the Union of BC Municipalities.
Prior to the adoption of the controlled substance property bylaw and subsequent inspections by the PSIT, the District of Mission had seen a 37% increase in reported marijuana grow operations. In 2008, Mission RCMP reported having opened files on more than 600 marijuana grow operations in the previous three years. The District had also been approached by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, which had advocated for programs offering a greater sense of security for potential home buyers that all homes in the district had not been operated as controlled substance properties.
Public Safety Inspections
The Public Safety Inspection Team (PSIT) inspected homes which were using more than 93 kwh/day of electricity and were observed to show signs of being a controlled substance property. This rate is three times the normal electrical use of an average family home. Controlled substance properties, especially those involved in growing marijuana, use between 72 kwh/day and 96 kwh/day for small scale hydroponic lighting systems.
PSIT inspections were typically instigated by one of two methods:
- RCMP-led inspections where the RCMP discovered a controlled substance property and asked PSIT to inspect.
- PSIT-led inspections based on electricity usage data obtained from BC Hydro, and a visual observation of the site looking for obvious signs of a controlled substance property or, conversely, signs of why abnormal levels of electricity would be consumed.
The PSIT Process (PSIT-led inspections):
When a property within the District of Mission consumed more than 93 kwh/day on a regular basis, BC Hydro passed this data along to the PSIT. The PSIT then performed a visual inspection of the property looking for any obvious signs of abnormal electrical use including: hot tubs, pools, workshops, as well as looking for signs of the use of natural gas for providing some energy needs. The PSIT also looked for obvious signs of controlled substance properties, including surveillance cameras, closed-up windows, or unusual property maintenance.
If the three-person inspection team reached a consensus that there was no obvious reason for the property to be consuming abnormal amounts of electricity, or that the property exhibited one of the obvious signs of a controlled substance property, a notice of inspection was posted to the door of the property indicating that the PSIT would return for a home inspection in 24 hours.
The team would then return 24 hours later to perform a property inspection. For safety reasons, an RCMP officer would be within sight distance (typically at the end of the driveway). If the resident of the property granted access to PSIT, the team would perform an inspection, which typically took between 30 to 90 minutes. If PSIT was denied access, the team would leave and return the next day with a warrant from a Justice of the Peace. If the warrant specified, an RCMP member would accompany the PSIT inside the property for the inspection.
During inspections, the team typically visited each room in the home, including workshop or detached garage if applicable. Pictures were taken and notes recorded. The resident would be invited to attend with them on their inspection. The team generated a written report, and a copy would be left with the resident after it was explained.
If the property was found to have evidence that it was recently used as a controlled substance property, the PSIT levied a fee of $4,900 + $300 administrative. Evidence included: unauthorized building modifications, including electrical, plumbing, and mechanical system alterations, evidence of potting soil within the home, covered-over windows, plant remnants, excessive soil remnants, and excessive mould / moisture damage.
The PSIT also left the resident with a remediation order of repairs, if warranted, which would be required on the property to bring it up to recognized living standards.
If the PSIT did not have a consensus that evidence existed of a controlled substance property, the resident would be advised that there was excessive electrical use, and remediation plan would be offered on how to make repairs. No inspection fee was charged.