North Van condo owner starts neighbourly dialogue and succeeds in making his building 100% smoke-free
Anton Shendryk bought a suite at Whytecliff a few years ago, one of five buildings at Woodcroft Estates in North Vancouver. Soon after moving in, he found himself surrounded by second-hand tobacco smoke.
As it turned out, several neighbours living above, below and beside him smoked, and while he had no interest in upsetting his neighbours or meddling in their affairs, the smoke made him miserable.
The first step Shendryk took was to open up dialogue. He called upon his neighbors, one by one, those who smoked and those who didn’t, politely explaining his dilemma and inviting discussion.
Many shared his concerns about the second-hand smoke but were uncomfortable speaking out, and predictably, some were less open to discussion.
“It’s not an easy thing to talk about. No one wants to tell their neighbors what to do, but unfortunately second-hand smoke is impossible to contain,” Shendryk said. “It travels from one apartment to the other through holes and cracks in the wall, through vents, windows, and all sorts of ways.”
His next step was to approach his building’s Strata Council. But while they listened, no action was taken so Shendryk said, “I decided to run for Strata Council myself.”
Within a year Shendryk had joined the Council and helped to establish a 100% no smoking bylaw, with no 'grandfather' clause for existing owners.
“You need a ¾ vote and it was close, but we managed to pass it. We achieved 76% in favor,” he said. “I knew upon arriving at our Annual General Meeting that about 30% were already in favor of a 100% smoke-free bylaw, so I decided to make a short presentation and it most certainly helped. Generally-speaking, my feeling is people just don’t know enough about the implications of second-hand smoke in multi-unit housing and so don’t understand why it’s such an important issue. The vast majority did not even know that something could be done about it.”
“The health risks of exposure to second-hand smoke are well known, but frankly not everyone really cares about that, so I chose instead to shed light on other aspects of the problem,” continued Shendryk.
“When you explain the impact smoking neighbors can have when it comes to selling a property, some people who didn’t listen before stood to attention. And for investors who rent their suites, there’s the problem of added maintenance costs when tenants move out. Not to mention the heightened risk of fire when a suite is occupied by smokers, and related insurance implications. Huge eye opener is regarding marijuana users and that some of them grow plants for personal use and profit. This means huge hydro bills to the entire building, not to mention structural damage from growing plants,” he continued.
“These are all things people don’t necessarily think about. This approach seemed to get their attention, and our no-smoking bylaw passed,” said Shendryk.
Photo: The Whytecliff Building at Woodcroft Estates in North Vancouver now has a 100% no-smoking policy inside suites, on balconies and on all common property.
For information and tools on how to adopt a 100% non-smoking Bylaw, visit: smokefreehousingbc.ca