By Sam Cooper
There’s no way Len Gratto is paying a $5,200 fine to Mission city hall for growing cucumbers in his basement. Gratto — a 67-year-old who has lived for 30 years with his wife in their Mission, British Columbia home — says he’s raring to join an imminent class-action lawsuit attacking the municipality’s grow-op bylaw inspections.
A number of citizens, led by Mission man Stacy Gowanlock, will allege their homes were illegally searched for pot grow-ops and they were slapped with fees and repair orders costing upward of $10,000 — all on questionable evidence.
Gratto says he’s never grown pot, but “laughable” evidence against him consists of pictures of some “dirt” on the basement wall and “a furnace pipe going up into the chimney, where it should be.”
“It’s upsetting they can do this,” Gratto said. “We were growing cucumbers in the basement because they wouldn’t take outside.”
Gowanlock said he was searched in 2009 and hit with thousands in fees and repair orders despite never growing pot in his home. A lawyer could be filing his civil suit within days, he said.
“I’m going to be the one that steps forward,” he said. “It’s the whole process. You’re violating people’s rights.”
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