Canada
RCMP, stakeholders tackle grow-ops

A house fire broke out in a house in Barrhaven near Ottawa on September 30, 2012, causing an estimated $250,000 in damages

Credits: MATT USHERWOOD/QMI AGENCY

JESSICA MURPHY | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - Grow-ops are creating fire hazards and death traps across the country - and many new homeowners may be buying them unawares.

That's just one of the issues being tackled by a new national coalition created to curb the problem of marijuana grow-ops and clandestine drug labs in cities across Canada.

Spearheaded by the RCMP, it includes representatives from law enforcement and the real estate, finance, energy and insurance industries. The goal is to share knowledge to better understand the problem and propose solutions to solve it.

The national coalition was launched in Ottawa Thursday.

Stats on drug labs are hard to pin down, but a representative of the Canadian Electricity Association said in some regions, grow-op electricity theft adds 5% to hydro bills overall.

"It's in the hundreds of millions of dollars," Devin McCarthy said.

Grow-ops also pose added danger to firefighters and emergency responders, who could face unexpected explosion dangers and other difficulties when responding to a call.

"It's a growing problem," said Diane Colley-Urqhart, a Calgary alderman and coalition co-chair.

Mould is one of the main problems found in homes that have hosted a grow-op. Some houses can't be salvaged, while others pose a serious health risk to residents.

That concern is behind a push by realtors to set up a national registry of former drug labs and grow-ops that homebuyers can check before signing a new mortgage.

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