Chilliwack MLA tables private member’s bill on marijuana grow-op remediation

Real estate industry lobbies for standard process to current problem getting worse with legalization

One of the side effects of cannabis legalization in Canada could be an exacerbating of the serious problem of remediating homes after a grow-op is dismantled.

In British Columbia, there are currently no provincial regulations laying out how a property should be remediated after it has been used to produce drugs.

Banks and insurance companies are reluctant to provide mortgages or insurance for homes where marijuana was grown because of the negative health and safety risks endemic to grow-ops.

Realtors across the province have been lobbying the provincial government to solve this problem, that in some cases is forcing homeowners into foreclosure.

Local real estate consultant Kim Parley said it’s harder today to get a mortgage for a house that was used to produce drugs than it was 10 years ago. The irony is that if it was an illegal grow-op, it can be easier because there is a paper trail for a bank to follow.

With legal medical marijuana growing licences and now, with the legal right for anyone to grow four plants in a home, the problem is only going to get worse.

• RELATED: Chilliwack realtor has important advice for homeowners on legal cannabis

“If it has never been busted, it doesn’t have a police report, it doesn’t have a re-occupancy permit,” Parley told The Progress. “If you don’t have any of that stuff, [the home] is essentially unsellable.”

And while the NDP government is yet to step in to fix the problem, a Fraser Valley MLA from the opposition benches is trying.

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness introduced a private member’s bill in the Legislature on May 27 that would task the New Homes Registry, an existing office, with developing remediation standards in consultation with industry for homes formerly used as grow operations.

“Police have estimated that there are 20,000 grow operations in British Columbia, and there will be many more now that cannabis has been legalized,” Throness said in a statement issued via the BC Liberal Caucus. “But because most banks and insurers refuse to provide mortgages and insurance for homes previously used as grow-ops, we risk these homes being left vacant or continuing to be used for illegal activity once these operations cease to exist – more or less permanently excluding them from the market.”

Throness introduced the Homeowner Protection Amendment Act to the legislature on May 27 which, if passed, he says will allow British Columbians to safely and securely purchase homes formerly used as grow operations.

If the law is passed, a homeowner with a house used to grow marijuana would have to hire a licensed home inspector to confirm that a home has been safely and completely remediated according to those standards with the aim of providing assurance to lenders, insurers, sellers, and buyers alike.

Parley called the bill “awesome.”

“It is certainly a step forward,” he said adding that the B.C. Real Estate Association has been lobbying for a standard remediation process like the type outlined by Throness’s bill.

“With the way things currently stand, thousands of homes will be unavailable to buyers because of past and future grow operations in B.C. In the midst of a housing crunch, this is simply unacceptable,” Throness said. “John Horgan needs to take swift action to ensure we are able to safely bring these homes to market.”

The missing player in all of this, however, is the banks and insurance companies themselves. Whether or not they provide mortgages and coverage is up to their own policies and discretion, so whether this bill would change things is unclear.

“At that point we’ve got to make sure the banks find this acceptable,” Parley said. “That’s the big missing piece, and that’s why we almost need to get them involved.”

• RELATED: Canadians less certain about cannabis in wake of legalization: survey


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Motorists urged to use caution as Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls through Chilliwack

Thousands of cyclists will be heading through Chilliwack this weekend as part of cancer fundraiser

Catholic church buys $7.5M equestrian facility in Abbotsford, plans ‘agri-retreat’ centre

Church hopes to grow crops, host students and others on Bradner property

PHOTOS: Chilliwack comes together to rebuild fairy village

About 300 people came out to rebuild the fairy village by Vedder River which was vandalized in June

PHOTOS: Lock’s Pharmacy celebrated 70 years with free street party in Chilliwack

The party was based on community spirit and giving back, says general manager David Lock

Kennedy, Cartier Roads could see upgrade in Kent’s next budget

Residents living and working on Kennedy Road wrote to complain about the dust from the gravel

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

‘Unsubstantiated’ bomb threat against CP Rail in Revelstoke

On Aug. 18, a bomb threat was made against CP Rail in Revelstoke

Victoria father charged with double murder of his daughters takes the stand

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

New regulations require training for B.C. addiction recovery homes

Inspections, standards replace ‘wild west,’ Judy Darcy says

Downtown Langley becomes a Saturday smorgasbord

Nineteen local restaurants participate in annual Fork and Finger sampling event

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

66% of B.C. residents want opt-out system for organ donation: poll

Support was lowest in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces

Most Read