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Housing co-op puts end to indoor smoking

Castlegreen members show “overwhelming” support for new rule

THUNDER BAY – One of Thunder Bay’s largest housing complexes has moved to ban smoking inside its units. Members of the Castlegreen Co-operative, in the city city’s north end, have voted strongly to ban smoking tobacco and cannabis, as well as vaping, inside co-op residences and other buildings.

General Manager Sharon Carolan-McKinnon says the change brings Castlegreen in line with many other housing providers, including Thunder Bay DSSAB public housing and numerous co-op housing projects across the country.

More importantly, it responds to the long-standing wishes of residents, she adds. As a housing co-operative, Castlegreen is run by a board voted in by residents, who are considered members and collectively own the organization. Those members had a chance to vote on the proposal themselves at a Thursday evening Annual General Meeting.

“We did certainly have a lot of respectful debate and questions and answers, and when it came to vote it was almost unanimous,” says Carolan-McKinnon. “I think the members were really waiting for this to happen and it was time.”

While only around 60 of Castlegreen’s over 350 members eligible to vote (being over the age of 18) were present at the AGM, the Carolan-McKinnon says they received around a 50% response rate to a survey sent directly to members, which showed “overwhelming” support for the indoor smoking ban.

Those with disabilities or medical conditions will be able to apply for exemptions to the new rule.

Co-op leaders have said the change will reduce costs to replace drywall and appliances from long-term smoke damage in some units, while also reducing risk of fire and protecting residents from second-hand smoke.

Carolan-McKinnon also hinted further smoking and vaping restrictions could come in the future. The change means many members may now be smoking outside close to other residences, “which could affect the enjoyment of other members who are non-smokers,” she says.

The co-op may look at implementing a minimum distance requirement and/or designated smoking areas in the future, she said.

Castlegreen is one of the city’s largest housing complexes, with 215 units and around 500 residents, including children.