Soon after Mollie Kaye, a Victoria resident, moved into her new condo — a 17-unit strata building — the smell of second-hand smoke became unbearable. She wants to see a provincial law forbidding smoking in conjoined housing adding that everyone’s health matters. (Submitted by B.C. Lung Association)

Victoria resident pushes for 100% no-smoking bylaws in multi-unit housing

Nothing stops second-hand smoke says B.C. Clean Air Coalition

Soon after Mollie Kaye, a Victoria resident, moved into her new condo — a 17-unit strata building — the smell of second-hand smoke became unbearable.

Kaye was able to figure out her neighbours below were the source of the smell, allowed to smoke in their suite due to grandfathered bylaws — meaning if a tenant moved in prior to the establishment of a 100 per cent no-smoking policy, they would be permitted to continue smoking as long as they remain in the unit — and asked them to smoke away from the windows. Still the smell was unbearable.

The neighbours agreed to buy an air purifier but according to Kaye the problem only got worse and her daughter was getting sick from the second-hand smoke.

READ ALSO: Rickter Scale: More smoke and secondhand hindsight

According to the B.C. Lung Association research has found that no ventilation system or any other measure can stop the migration of second-hand smoke between units in conjoined housing, finding its way to other homes through windows, balconies, plumbing and lighting fixtures, baseboards and electrical outlets.

Kaye began campaigning to the strata council, aiming for them to put forward a 100 per cent no-smoking bylaw.

“One member of that four-person council was a smoker, and another a strong advocate for smokers’ rights,” says Kaye. “How are they going to handle an issue like this without bias?”

Kaye says the property manager presented a ‘legally unenforceable’ no-smoking bylaw to council which included ‘grandfathering’ clauses that allowed existing smokers to continue smoking.

Filing a complaint under the new bylaw, Kaye became more and more frustrated — especially when the property manager raised the possibility of Kaye’s child being the culprit behind the second-hand smoke smell.

“If a neighbour’s tap was overflowing and causing water damage to my unit, someone would be called in to deal with it immediately. Why do we not treat second-hand smoke the same way?”

The smoke become unignorable, old friends would visit and say ‘I didn’t know you smoked.’ Kaye reached her end and ‘had it out’ with her neighbours.

“I yelled about how sick the smoke was making my daughter, and how it was fouling my apartment and decreasing its value. I ended up breaking down crying and begged her to please stop.”

Kaye’s neighbours have now agreed to follow the bylaw, which states current smokers can’t smoke indoors if the second-hand smoke is affecting other residents. They now leave the building to smoke and although Kaye can smell smoke occasionally she says the situation has vastly improved.

Kaye says she wants to see a provincial law forbidding smoking in conjoined housing adding that everyone’s health matters. The B.C. government recently proclaimed June 24 to 30 Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing week, but organizations are banding together to push for more action.

READ ALSO: More than naming a week is needed to tackle second-hand smoke, B.C. woman says

The B.C. Lung Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society are partners in the Clean Air Coalition of British Columbia. They’re asking the government to do more when it comes to second-hand smoke exposure in rental and owned apartments, condominiums and townhome dwelling.

Over the past decade the Coalition has worked to provide multi-unit housing providers with resources which would help with implementing a 100 per cent no smoking policies, but despite health, financial, maintenance and fire prevention benefits they say 100 per cent smoke-free housing options are still scarce, especially in low-cost rental housing and strata corporations.

In 2016 and again in 2018, Coalition partners surveyed residents in the province living in multi-unit housing, finding that the vast majority of residents would prefer living 100 per cent smoke-free housing. Putting forth a recommendation that would make it possible under the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act for landlords to implement premise-wide no smoking policies that apply to all tenants, with no grandfathering requirements.

The Coalition’s report also recommends — a no-smoking default requirement — meaning if strata owners want to allow smoking in the building they would require a three out of four vote to make this happen.

To view their full report visit www.cleanaircoalitionbc.com/database/files/library/Smoke_Free_Housing_2016_Report_FINAL___June_8_2016.pdf.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Demonstrators plan to shut down Pat Bay Highway Wednesday afternoon

Adam Olsen, MLA, says issue should be taken to province, not communities

Wear your rose-coloured glasses for the second annual Pink Shirt Gala

Anti-bullying event promises pink drinks, food and shirts

Pink Shirt Day originator to speak at Monterey school in Oak Bay

Travis Price continues anti-bullying movement with Island tour

Pink Shirt Day uplifting for West Shore RCMP

Members of the West Shore RCMP have scheduled a variety of activities with students Feb. 26

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Most Read