Recreational pot use banned at some P.E.I. public housing buildings

Some public housing residents on the Island say they were shocked to see signs posted in their buildings last week, warning that "Housing Services will not permit smoking or vaping of recreational cannabis in any PEI Housing owned building."

Residents question why cigarette smoking is allowed, but pot is not

Tenants of all government-run housing complexes on the Island, including Duvar Court in Charlottetown, aren't permitted to use recreational cannabis inside or out. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Some public housing residents say they were shocked to see signs posted in their buildings last week, warning that "Housing Services will not permit smoking or vaping of recreational cannabis."

"I was surprised because you're allowed to smoke cigarettes in your own apartment," said Bev Gardiner, who lives at Duvar Court in Charlottetown. "I can't see any difference with the smoking of cigarettes or the smoking of cannabis."

Victor Arnold lives next door to Gardiner at Queens Court. 

"If they want to ban them both, okay," he said. "But, I don't think they should ban either one."

This is the notice that greeted residents last Tuesday, the day before recreational pot became legal in Canada. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Decision driven by tenant feedback, says government 

The signs went up last Tuesday, the day before recreational pot became legal in Canada. 

The Department of Family and Human Services, which oversees government-run housing on the Island, initially told CBC the rule applied to all public housing buildings, but later clarified that it only applies to multi-unit housing.

"Any single or duplexes where smoking is permitted, recreational and medicinal cannabis would be allowed," it said in an email to CBC.

How many ways can you spell hypocrites?— Wendy Budgeon, Duvar Court resident 

The department said in the multi-unit buildings that allow smoking, only tobacco and medicinal cannabis are permitted.

"Feedback received from current tenants was predominantly against smoking cannabis in apartments, due to second-hand smoke and odour concerns, as well as concern over unknown side-effects for tenants, visitors and staff."

Victor Arnold, a resident of Queens Court in Charlottetown, reads the notice in his building's lobby, warning residents recreational cannabis use is prohibited. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Cannabis use could lead to eviction 

Under P.E.I. legislation, Islanders are only permitted to use pot in private residences. Landlords, including the provincial government in this case, are allowed to ban it through their rental agreements. 

The government says if a complaint is made against a tenant for using cannabis, and they continue to use it after verbal and written warnings, they could be evicted. 

Bev Gardiner, who lives at Duvar Court in Charlottetown, questions why she's able to smoke a cigarette in her apartment, while residents are banned from smoking cannabis recreationally. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Wendy Budgeon, another resident of Duvar Court, questions the province's logic. 

"How many ways can you spell hypocrites? This government plans to cash in big time on cannabis and [public] seniors' residences allow smoking of tobacco. If no smoking is the rule then it has to be everything," she said. 

No one from the department was available for an interview Tuesday, to further explain the rationale for banning recreational cannabis in its buildings.

Meanwhile, Health PEI is taking a different approach with recreational cannabis at its long-term care facilities. 

While residents aren't permitted to smoke anything inside, some facilities have designated smoking areas. Health PEI says residents are allowed to smoke cannabis in those areas. 

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