The Surrey fire chief whose testimony for the Crown in the Allard case was called “not credible” and “biased” has spoken out against the court’s decision.
Surrey fire chief Len Garis is sticking to his discredited testimony in a recent interview with Global where he said that allowing home growers to continue will continue to be a hazard.
“Whatever regulatory system is in place or was in place or is in place today didn’t seem to be adhered to or followed, that was out objection to it and our conclusion was that these homes were unsafe to some degree,” Garis said.
That conclusion had been picked apart by the plaintiffs in the Allard decision from Justice Michael Phelan, with evidence presented that lawyer John Conroy said wasn’t applicable to licensed home growers.
“All of these allegations about mould, fire, home invasion, public safety are all things that can be dealt with and dealt with reasonably and their focus was on illegal operations, not legal medical operations,” said Conroy. “They had virtually no evidence to support those types of problems in legal operations”
In Phelan’s decision, the judge said Garis’s report didn’t hold up to examination and was heavily biased.
“He was an active public advocate against cannabis cultivation,” Phelan wrote. “His report provided no analysis or context for the court to accurately judge the purported fire risks. Instead, it was painfully obvious that his entire study was motivated to support a cause – his own personal view against residential growing operations.”
During his testimony, Garis acknowledged that the risk of a kitchen fire is higher than the risk from home grows and that with proper electrical installation, any risks from fire would be addressed.
Fire captain and witness for the plaintiffs Tim Moen said during the trial that Garis “ignored alternative evidence or explanations for the cause of fires at illegal grow operations.”
Moen pointed out that the number of fires at grow homes, including illegal sites, has stayed the same or gone down, even as the amount of grow sites has drastically increased.
Regardless of the decision, Garis said he still believes home grow operations pose a significant risk.
“The court, I believe has overlooked that, or discounted that, if it’s going to be continued to be grown at homes I would hope that there’s going to be some oversight for regulation that would make sure that it’s done safely and, after the growing has ceased, that the property is inspected and remediated so it’s safe for the next person,” Garis said.