Illegal smoking shelter must be removed from nursing home

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A controversial illegally built smoking shelter next to a retirement home in Saint-Malo is about to be demolished.

“I will take this as a victory,” says Mike, whose mother is a resident of Chalet Malouin. Mike requested that his last name not be published in order to protect his mother’s identity.

According to Mike, a resident of the nursing home had the smoking shelter built last fall. The intent was to give residents a place to smoke without having to battle the elements of a harsh Manitoba winter. He says that at one time the shelter had a shag carpet with extension cords for lighting. It is located right next to one of the exits, which means residents have to walk through it when entering or leaving. Mike says there was also a door on the shelter, although it was ordered removed earlier this spring.

“It’s just a nightmare, it’s a health hazard and tripping,” adds Mike, who says his mother is in her mid-80s, blind in one eye, uses a walker and has had at least a close call where she nearly tripped walking by.

A building inspector from the Rural Municipality of De Salaberry confirmed that this smoking shelter was never legally built. He says not only does the structure not belong there, but all that smoke is now flowing back into the building, becoming a health concern for the residents inside.

The Chalet’s general manager confirms that the shelter was never approved by the board, but notes that the board said from day one that it could stay in place as long as there were no concern from residents. Now, more than six months later, she says they heard concerns and the board ordered it removed by June 24. Mike’s family has been pushing for weeks to have the shelter scrapped, but they say the council only meets once a month to discuss the issues.

“So it’s not a big deal, I guess according to them it’s only a lifetime or two,” Mike said sarcastically. “That should be a big deal for everyone.”

Not only was the shelter illegally built, according to the building inspector, but it turns out that the regulations state that smoking is prohibited within nine meters of this building. The manager says that as a result, anyone is now prohibited from using this shelter to smoke, even if they remain standing for another three and a half weeks.

Mike says he considers this a victory, although he is disappointed that the shelter can remain in place for several more weeks. He notes that at least his mother won’t have to deal with the lingering smell of smoke in the hallway, which she has sometimes described as the “pungent smell” of marijuana. However, Mike says the shelter still impedes traffic and he shudders to think of what might happen if there was a fire.

According to the manager, the smoking shelter was actually built in one of their designated smoking areas on the grounds. Once the shelter is gone, it will continue to be a designated smoking area, however, it will continue to be illegal to smoke within nine meters of this building.


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