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Second-hand smoke at Surrey townhouse prompts rights case

A Surrey woman has filed a human rights complaint alleging the second-hand smoke from her townhouse neighbour is a hazard to her health. - File Photo / The Leader
A Surrey woman has filed a human rights complaint alleging the second-hand smoke from her townhouse neighbour is a hazard to her health.
— image credit: File Photo / The Leader

A Surrey woman who claims her neighbour's cigarette smoke is a hazard to her health will have her case heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Kathryn and Douglas Arndt filed a complaint against Chelsea Gardens Strata Corp. and Maureen Puffer, who lives in a townhouse below them.

The couple alleges Puffer smokes in the garage, on the patio and in other areas of the strata complex and that the smoke wafts into their home, triggering Kathryn Arndt's chronic asthma.

Chelsea Gardens is a 235-unit complex near 138 Street and 70 Avenue.

The Arndts' problems with the neighbour's smoking stretches back two years, when Kathryn Arndt wrote to the strata manager Gerry Blanchard saying her asthma had gotten worse as a result of Puffer's smoking. Arndt said she had to go to the hospital emergency in June 2009 for ventalin treatment.

Puffer was fined by the strata $25 the following year and sent a warning letter that she was in contravention of the complex's bylaws and those of the City of Surrey. Chelsea Gardens argued it had enforced its bylaws and that there was nothing more they could do under the circumstances.

The Arndts, however, maintain Chelsea Gardens "has not taken effective steps to restrain" Puffer from smoking.

In her defence, Puffer questioned the degree to which the smoke affects the Arndts, argued she wasn't breaking any bylaws, and said she would "not be harassed or be a prisoner" in her own home.

The defendants – both Puffer and Chelsea Gardens – applied to have the human rights case dismissed. In a decision Aug. 10, tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams threw out the complaint against Puffer, but said the case against the strata will proceed. Geiger-Adams suggested mediation might lead to a resolution rather than conducting a hearing.

 

 

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