Smoking ans non-smoking residents in support of the protest at Westend Manor in Vermilion on March 4.
Residents of Westend Manor in Vermilion held a protest on March 4, in regards to recent changes made to the smoking policy by the Vermilion & District Housing Foundation (VDHF).
According to resident Ellenor Cleland, two years ago the VDHF had smoking residents pay half ($300 each) for air filtration systems to be put in their homes as well as $100 every three months for filters. As a result of a recent complaint, the smoking policy has now been altered to reflect the Town of Vermilion bylaw, as well as provincial and federal law effective July 1, 2019
Resident, Jenny Gray, has been pushing for the smoking policy to be changed for the past four years and met with VDHF CAO Paul Kim on January 29 to discuss the matter. Her response was, “I didn’t make the laws. My partner has stage 4 COPD, and I’ve since had death threats and the windows cracked on my car.”
Cleland answered by saying, “The complainant is 100 per cent correct regarding the laws. However, we have a constitutional right to express our opinions and to protest in the hope that VDHF will be lenient to their octogenarians who don’t want to smoke outdoors in wintertime.”
She went on to say that feeling pressured, some residents even feel bullied, have began the effort of venturing outdoors with a majority using canes, walkers or wheelchairs. With a lot of upset feelings, they are looking at the future with concerns for health and safety next winter, their friendships, and for their housing in general.
With 16 units in the building, 10 residents (smoking and non-smoking) signed in support of a letter of concern to be returned to the VDHF.