SALMON ARM OFFICIALS CRITICIZED FOR EVICTING MARIJUANA GROWER
Human Rights Tribunal Rules City Discriminated Against Disabled Man
Salmon Arm city officials have been rapped on the knuckles for kicking a man out of his home for more than two years because he was growing marijuana -- even though they knew it was for medicinal use.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the city discriminated against Kenneth James after raiding his home, seizing his pot plants, disconnecting his water supply and putting a "Do Not Occupy" notice on the door in April 2007.
James, who was in the process of renewing his federal permit to grow pot for medicinal use, was told he and his partner Peter Moynan could not return to the house until they removed the carpets and curtains, had the home professionally cleaned and paid the city $3,009.
He can return home only now, after the tribunal ordered the city to cease its actions, rescind the cost order and remove the notice.
"I conclude the city discriminated against Mr. James when it rigidly imposed the bylaw against him, while failing to take into account, adequately or at all, his disability, the very reason he was growing marijuana in the first place," tribunal member Kurt Neuenfeldt said.
He said city officials failed to take any steps to get all the relevant information about James' disability and didn't even consider whether he would need accommodation.
Even when the city knew James had received his renewed permits in May 2007, it was still demanding he clean up the house and pay the $3,009.
The city claims it was acting under its Controlled Substance-Safe Premises bylaw, which had been adopted two months earlier as a health and safety precaution.
Maurice Roy, city manager of permits and licensing, told the tribunal that it's well-known there are mould issues connected with growing marijuana. He said he didn't seek more information because he "always takes the RCMP at their word." He was unavailable to comment Friday.
James' lawyer Fred Kaatz said that before the order, James had had a permit for six years to grow marijuana. "It just seems to me they were a little callous as to the needs of my client," he said. "All he wanted all along was to get back into his house and not pay $3,009."
Salmon Arm Mayor Marty Bootsma said the city was reviewing its controlled substance bylaw following the tribunal decision.
"We're going to have another look at it," he said. "Obviously the Human Rights Tribunal found something not satisfactory."
29 Aug 2009
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun