No Search Warrant, No Problem – Or Is There?

Posted on August 18th, 2010 by Centennial Law in Charter of Rights

Over the past few months, we have seen quite a few news stories about large scale grow-ops located in relatively remote locations.  These sensational stories have temporarily taken the spotlight off the smaller version of the grow-op phenomenon – the quiet, little house on a quiet, little street in a quiet, little subdivision which is converted into a grow-op – complete with dangerously dangling electrical wires and systems for bypassing the electric meter.


Aside from the obvious fact that the cultivation of marijuana is, with limited exceptions, illegal, the grow-op in the suburbs presents another danger – the risk of fire caused by overloaded electrical circuits.  It was this critical danger which led to the enactment in British Columbia in 2003 of the provisions of the Safety Standards Act which permitted entry into residential premises, without a search warrant, for the purpose of inspecting electrical systems for safety risks associated with grow-ops.


In the case of Arkinstall v. City of Surrey, [2010 BCCA 250], Mr. Arkinstall and his partner refused to allow fire safety inspectors to enter their home accompanied by police officers unless the fire safety inspectors could produce a search warrant – which they did not have.  As a reward for not cooperating with the fire inspectors – power to the Arkinstall home was disconnected.


Mr. Arkinstall and his partner took legal action.  Amongst other things, they argued that the provisions of the Safety Standards Act which permit entry without a search warrant should be struck down on the basis that they offend section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The BC Court of Appeal agreed with them that entry without a search warrant violates the reasonable expectation of privacy which we all enjoy under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.



Article provided by Centennial Law Corp.

The specific facts of any real life situation can have many unforeseen legal implications. As a result, please note that the general information found in the above article should not be treated as legal advice.