Families take stand against grow-op inspections
More families are stepping forward, claiming they were unfairly targeted by city inspectors who use high electricity consumption to justify a grow-op search.
Inspectors didn't find a grow-op in Drew Smith's house. Instead, they discovered an electrically heated pool -- the source of the electricity spike that prompted the search.
The inspectors reacted by demanding that a land survey be done, which could cost thousands of dollars.
"The witchhunt goes on," Smith told CTV News. "They didn't find a grow op, now they have other issues."
Smith is teaming up with a dozen other families who have been wrongly targeted, including Selina and Bryan Prevost.
In the last six months of 2007, Coquitlam's public safety inspection team entered 128 homes on the strength of electricity data. They found 88 grow-ops, suspected 24 more -- and left 14 families wondering why they had entered into the houses in the first place.
"Their process is definitely flawed," said Smith.
The Prevost's nightmare began a week and a half ago when a notice was slapped on their front door, accusing them of having a grow-op.
Their B.C. Hydro bill is $154 per month, and they only have electric heat. The inspectors found wiring and venting problems, and they were fixed.
"It took me two minutes to figure out the irregularities in my bill," said Bryan Prevost.
But on top of that, the Prevosts were told they had to pay a $5,000 re-inspection fee.
The timing couldn't be worse, because Selina Prevost is pregnant -- and she went into labour on Monday morning. The Prevosts don't have a house.
"I needed to live in my house, I need occupancy of my house," said Bryan Prevost.
Smith is organizing a meeting of people who have been affected next week.
"We're trying to at least change some of the process," he said. "No one wants a grow-op in their neighbourhood. We just want to get on with our lives and enjoy the summer in our backyard."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Carrie Stefanson