The BCCLA is supporting residents of the District of Mission who have launched a class-action lawsuit against the District for violations of their rights under the District’s Controlled Substance Property Bylaw. The bylaw permits safety inspectors to enter private homes to look for marijuana grow operations. However, many Mission residents have been found in violation of the bylaw despite having no marijuana grow operation. In 2010, the BCCLA made written and oral presentations to the Mission District Council about the numerous, highly credible reports of exorbitant inspection “fees”, revocation of occupancy permits on insufficient or spurious safety grounds, and a total lack of procedural fairness at various stages of the investigatory and hearing process.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director: “Essentially residents in Mission are being charged for having imaginary grow-ops. “Safety” inspectors have been declaring homes “controlled substance properties” without any credible evidence. Entirely innocent residents have been charged outrageous fees and tarred with the label of drug manufacturer, without any effective way to challenge the charge”.
Stacy Gowanlock, Plaintiff in the lawsuit: “The citizens of Mission have tried for years to get the District to properly review these decisions and fix this program. We have seen litigation as an absolute last recourse. But we can’t wait any more. People are suffering badly, particularly the elderly and those on fixed incomes. People have been traumatized and in some cases, have lost their homes. It’s clear the District is not moving on this, so we have to ask the courts to remedy the damage.”
The statement of claim for the lawsuit will be filed today. The statement notes that the District of Mission communicated the false reports of drug activity to third parties including plaintiffs’ mortgage holders, property insurers and prospective home purchasers. The plaintiffs claim damages for a range of harms including invasion of privacy, expenses, lost reputation and diminished market value of their homes.