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Surrey Closer to Becoming 'Grow Op-Free City'

February 06, 2012

Surrey – The City of Surrey has seen an 82 per cent reduction in the number of marijuana grow operations in the city, and a dramatic decrease in residential fires associated with grow ops.

According to a new report being presented to Council tonight, the Surrey Electrical Fire Safety Inspection (EFSI) Program, which began as a demonstration project in 2005 and was expanded in 2007, has resulted in the following successes:

  • 1461 locations were rendered safe with respect to electrical safety issues;
  • 1005 locations had the power terminated;
  • 439 locations required electrical repair notices only; and
  • there was an 81.6% reduction in confirmed “grow ops” in 2011 in comparison to 2007

“We’re providing an administrative solution to the problem of marijuana grow operations, instead of relying solely on the criminal justice system. The end result is that we’ve shut down thousands of operations, which are a major public safety risk and fire hazard,” says Mayor Dianne Watts.

The City’s EFSI team includes representation from Surrey Fire Service, RCMP, Electrical Inspections and By-law Enforcement. The program has garnered considerable recognition provincially, nationally and internationally from other governments, police departments and fire departments.

“Surrey’s EFSI program has contributed to a significant decline in residential fires throughout the city,” says Fire Chief Len Garis. He adds the City is also participating in a marijuana grow op working group, being chaired by the Province and the RCMP.

In an effort to prevent new grow ops from starting in Surrey and elsewhere around the region, staff is working on the following strategies:

  • An increase in tax audits of illegal drug production income through the sharing of information between local and federal authorities;
  • Regulation of the sale of the sophisticated high-wattage hydroponics equipment used in most grow operations;
  • Provision in legislation for local monitoring of licensed medical marijuana grow operations, which share the same public safety risks as illegal grow operations; and
  • Support for research focused on eliminating illegal narcotics production, including the development of new detection technology, the assessment of regional programs and the completion of baseline studies of Canada’s marijuana trade.

In addition, the City implemented a new awareness campaign in 2011 to better educate the community about recognizing signs of a grow operation.

The EFSI Program will continue to operate in 2012 with one team processing six to 10 files per week, primarily generated from Hydro consumption data or through RCMP Crime Stopper tips. The program remains financially self-sufficient, and is funded though the fees and charges that are generated through the City’s Controlled Substance Bylaw.

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Media Contact:

Tara Foslien
Senior Communications Specialist
Office of the Mayor

Len Garis, Fire Chief
City of Surrey