Oil tanks, drug labs among ugly real estate surprises

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Frank O’Brien

A Metro Vancouver residential property purchase can reveal some ugly surprises, from marijuana grow-op and meth lab damage to old oil tanks, aboriginal middens or a heritage designation, all of which can prove costly to the buyer.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver presents the following information on how to unearth surprises before they bite you.

Local government (municipal) website have a range of information. For example:

Richmond provides a road map of designated heritage buildings and homes, and includes photos.

The City of Vancouver confirms if a property has been used as a grow op or illegal drug lab to anyone phoning 604-871-6231. The City does not provide the owner’s name in keeping with privacy legislation. (Note: there is no available universal public registry of homes previously used as grow ops and illegal drug labs, but the RCMP has a national registry which covers municipalities policed by the RCMP.)

West Vancouver provides a list of properties known to have underground storage tanks. Visit: www.westvancouver.ca and search Fuel Storage Tank Program. Scroll to More Information and see fuel/ oil tank records Search.

There is a BC Heritage Sites Inventory. Information about its properties comes from local governments. To investigate potential aboriginal history of a site, check the BC Archaeological Site. You can also phone 250-953-3338.

Search the BC Government’s Contaminated Sites Registry, which lists some contaminated sites. It is available through www.bconline.gov.bc.ca.(Go to Products). There is a charge to access the database.

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