Why this young family has been living with pot smoke in their condo for the last 5 years
CBC News
Lisa Xing
23 Auguat 2017

The Bradshaws say they've been smelling marijuana smoke in their unit for almost five years. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

A Toronto man says he's tired of waking up to the smell of weed coming in from his neighbour's unit and wants his condo corporation to do more to resolve the issue.

For almost five years, Paul Bradshaw says, smoke has been seeping in through the front door, windows and electrical sockets. Then it flows into the room belonging to his seven-year-old son, Sam.

"It wakes him up from a dead sleep," he said in an interview with CBC Toronto. "We have an air purifier but it has very little effect. It's potent. It hits you."

Bradshaw said he first raised the issue with his neighbour and then with the property management company in 2012. They tested and confirmed there was smoke and deficiencies in the shared wall.
The management firm then repaired the wall between the two units and the condo corporation even got a court order to stop the neighbour from smoking in 2015. In June of this year, another round of smoke testing was done.

'It makes you frustrated'
But Bradshaw says he still smells smoke.

"It makes you frustrated, it makes you angry," he said. "As a father, you have to protect your family, especially your son. When you can't do that, it really affects you. This is a health and safety issue."

While the Ontario Condominium Act doesn't reference smoking specifically, it does prohibit activities in a unit or common areas that cause "injury or illness to individuals." Specific buildings can develop policies to address smoking, but Bradshaw's has not.

Bradshaw said it wouldn't have been as much of an issue if the smoke was seeping in "once or twice a month" but the family smells it at least a couple of times a week, if not more. The family has also been using candles, sprays and even door sealers to try to get rid of the smell, but without much luck.
"In that time, Sam's learned to read and write, ride a bike, ride a skateboard, learn to swim, finish junior and senior kindergarten," he said. "Five years. That's not acceptable. No one seems to be listening."

Bob St. George, the president of St. George Property Management, told CBC Toronto they're looking at ways to enforce the court order but there is no effort at the moment to force the neighbour out.

St. George says he's sympathetic with the Bradshaws' plight but "there are limitations on what the condominium [corporation] can do.

"The enforcement procedure isn't an easy one. It can take years. If someone doesn't cooperate, there's notices, numerous notices, that need to be sent and lawyers get involved and you go through a whole process there. It takes a long time," he said.

St. George also says the issue will become more complicated once marijuana is legalized by the federal government. "I think it will create considerable problems with condominiums because, now, people are entitled to smoke it and I think it will cause problems."

Some action needs to be taken by the condo corporation to "accommodate the sufferer," says Toronto condominium lawyer Denise Lash.

"It's not an easy one to tackle. You have to accommodate both smokers and non-smokers," she said. "That's the nature of condominium living."

Bradshaw says situations like his should not be taking so long to resolve.
"A lot of us are forced to live in these vertical cities, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're liveable cities. When property managers and boards of directors don't resolve it, where else do you have to turn?"

Bradshaw's neighbour did not agree to an interview with CBC Toronto.

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