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Bad Kitty

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The City of Chilliwack wants the court to impose a precedent-setting $40,000 fine on a Promontory property owner who has twice had marijuana grow operations found in her home.

Four charges, each carrying a maximum $10,000 fine, have been laid against Kitty Iok Kee Cheang, the owner of a home in the 46000-block of Tournier Place.

Cheang is charged with: constructing or installing an obstruction of an exit required under the Building Code; allowing a portion of the premise to be subject to the growth of mould or fungus arising from the cultivation of marijuana plants; allowing construction to be carried out without a valid building permit; and allowing construction which does not comply with the Building Code.

"This is the biggest tool that we can use," Mayor Sharon Gaetz told the Times, adding that the city estimates the value of the marijuana seized from the residence at $3.6 million.

The Tournier Place home has sat empty since Oct. 29 when a city inspector posted a notice forbidding entry to the home.

The first time a grow-op was found in the home was in December 2008. The city fined Cheang $3,120 and ordered her to clean up the property, which she did.

"So this is the second time and she hasn't learned her lesson," Gaetz said.

The $10,000 fine has never been issue by the city, and last year city staff said this was because of the extensive and uncertain court process required.

The fine requires the city to invest staff time, to hire a prosecutor and go before a judge to argue the case. And even if the city were to win, the fine is up to the judge.

"We've been advised that we would not get very large fines," the city's director of corporate services Rob Carnegie told the Times in October. "I'm not aware of any judge levying a $10,000 fine for a bylaw offence in B.C."

When asked about the probability of having the fine imposed, Gaetz simply said, "We'll see."

Gaetz said the city released information about the case to the media in part as a deterrent, but she is told by city staff that they expect to find fewer and fewer illegal grow-ops in Chilliwack.

That's because she said staff think marijuana dealers will increasingly use medicinal marijuana licences.

"We have 50 that we know of right now," she said. "We are estimating we will have 500 next year."

Gaetz said the city cannot differentiate between a legal grow-op and an illegal grow-op and because of privacy laws bylaw enforcement officers can't find out the addresses of medicinal marijauana growers.

The city wants the federal government to take the reins of a problem facing municipalities across Canada.

"The federal government may have unintentionally handed us a bouquet of onions," she said.

A preliminary date for the case against Cheang has been set for March 15 in Chilliwack Provincial Court.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Chilliwack Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Chilliwack Times
Contact: editorial@chilliwacktimes.com
Website: Chilliwack Times
Details: MAP: Media Directory
Author: Paul J. Henderson
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