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City officials have ordered inspections of six houses that have been used for grow-ops so far this year.

Property use inspector Dave Jones said Wednesday the latest one the City has dealt with, at 285 Leigh Rd., involved a safety inspection earlier this month.

That grow-op was small compared with the other five he has attended to, which were more commercial in size. In all cases, the houses were rented out.

"The others were considerably huge, they were used as a commercial venture rather than the tenant trying to make ends meet," he said.

Jones said the home's owner has taken the right steps to get a professional look at the building and assess what needs to be fixed.

"He's doing the right thing," he said.

"Most of the time it takes a year and a half, two years, to get these houses remediated."

Last year, Jones dealt with 10 grow-op houses that had to be inspected and repaired.

"We don't do active enforcement until the RCMP identify it as a grow-op," he said.

Once that happens, an inspection must be done by a specialist. The nearest company is in Kelowna, he said. The inspection alone can cost in the $10,000 range - and that doesn't include repair work.

The house is scoured not just for mould, but also electrical, asbestos, structural and other problems.

Jones said he has seen houses where tenants have dug extra rooms off the basement to create hidden grow-op spaces. Most of the houses are owned by someone living out of town.

But in one case, the landlord lived three blocks away and inspected every month - yet the grow-op went undiscovered for a long time, hidden underneath a carport.

Repairing a house used to grow marijuana can be costly.

"The last one I finished cost the guy $500,000 to get back to livability. The house is worth $750,000," he said.

And the houses have been all over town: Westsyde, Sahali, Barnhartvale, Dallas, North Shore and downtown.

"It's a lucrative business."

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