A former city councillor in Mission, B.C. is accusing the city of going too far in an effort to silence his criticism about the city’s crackdown on suspected marijuana grow operations.
Former Mission councillor Ron Taylor says he received an unexpected visit Monday night from the RCMP.
“They came knocking on the door, they got search warrants, they took three computers,” he told CTV News.
Taylor was a vocal opponent of a city bylaw that permits safety inspectors to enter private homes to look for marijuana grow-ops. Some Mission residents have complained about high inspection fees and filed a class-action lawsuit against the city last week.
“Council is running scared because they’ve got a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against them and this is one way of trying to quiet down one of their more vocal critics,” Taylor said.
The city says it was having trouble communicating the goals of the inspection program to the public, and council passed a resolution behind closed doors to hire a public relations firm to help with that.
Taylor says he got wind of that confidential information and leaked it to the media, which is what triggered the seizure of his computers.
Police searched two homes on Monday in connection with that investigation; the other reportedly belongs to Mission Coun. Jenny Stevens.
“Mission RCMP has been involved in an investigation for quite some time relative to breach of the community charter and breach of trust,” Cpl. Holly Marks said.
A troubled program
The city inspection team’s job is to track electricity consumption to find grow-ops and methamphetamine labs, but in three years of operation, there have been so many complaints that the city put the program on hold in January to conduct a review.
“A lot of it deals with the interaction between our inspection team and those people who have an inspection,” Paul Gipps, chief administrator for the District of Mission, said of the review.
“The other aspect is the fees that are levied on those properties that are determined to be a controlled substance property.”
Mandy Gowanlock and her husband Stacy are spearheading the lawsuit against the city after they were the subject of one contentious inspection.
“Basically they came in, shut my husband out, then about 20 minutes later came out and checked the hot tub and said the wiring was not to code, and then after that they gave us a fee for $5,200,” she said.