Pot smell fears prompt CityHousing Hamilton to look at a smoking ban

Fear of the pungent smell of pot smoke has prompted Hamilton's largest social housing provider to ban smoking altogether in its new buildings. They aren't the only landlord wondering how to deal with the smell.

Other landlords are also thinking about how to handle pot smoke in their buildings

CityHousing Hamilton, worried about marijuana smoke, is looking at banning smoking in new and retrofitted buildings next year. That includes 500 MacNab St. N. (CityHousing Hamilton)

Concern about the pungent smell of pot smoke is prompting Hamilton's largest social housing provider to consider banning smoking altogether in its new buildings.

It's something that raises more questions than it answers. That's for sure.- Graham Cubitt, Indwell

The board of CityHousing Hamilton (CHH) voted Monday to look at "odour mitigation" techniques for when marijuana becomes legal in June.

It will also examine a policy next year that bans smoking in all its new buildings and retrofits, including the high rise at 500 MacNab St. N.

President Chad Collins initiated the move after a recent housing conference. Vendors usually focus on issues such as bed bug remediation, he said. This year, it was all about pot.

"Imagine coming home every day, and you're with your family, or you're a single senior," said Collins, a Ward 5 city councillor. "You get out of the elevator and (marijuana is) the first thing you smell."

"My fear is there’s going to be a flood of complaints as soon as the legislation kicks in," says Chad Collins. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

CHH already fields complaints about pot smoke, Collins said. "My fear is there's going to be a flood of complaints as soon as the legislation kicks in and people are going to be able to buy it at the LCBO store."

CHH will look at options no later than the spring.

The social housing provider isn't the only local landlord worried about the impact of legal pot. Effort Trust, one of the city's biggest landlords, is waiting to see what CHH does.

Ivan Murgic, director of property operations, hopes it's as simple as talking to a tenant whose smoking is impacting neighbours. That's what happens now.

Saskatchewan's justice minister said this month that those who want to smoke marijuana need to find a landlord who will allow it. (CBC)

"Sometimes, something as simple as asking them to moderate usage can make a big difference, or avoiding smoking on the balcony near a neighbour's window."

Indwell is a social housing provider with non-smoking buildings. Graham Cubitt, director of projects and development, said that rule includes pot. But no one really knows what legalization will mean for landlords.

"We haven't gotten through the process of figuring out what all might be impacted," he said.

"It's something that raises more questions than it answers. That's for sure."

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca