The above image was taken at the International Taste Buds event held this past weekend by and for the TCHC tenants at 2180/2190 Ellesmere Road Scarborough.
TCHC has become a city-centric organization which is a far cry from it's claim of being tenant-centric. There are twice as many city councillors as tenants on the board of directors. As if that alone isn't enough of an indication of the corporations actual direction the city chose the people to become part of their elite Tenants Last [I mean Tenants First] initiative. Then more recently the City of Toronto decided who the two new tenant board members would be.
So, why is this important? ... Well it has to do with Toronto Community Housing's Fire Life Safety Plan.
On TCHC's own website it claims they are wholly owned by the City of Toronto. So if that's the case why are TCHC buildings exempt from the no smoking policies that apply to all other government buildings?
Especially when it is taken into consideration with the fact that it has been raised at previous Board meetings that smoking is the second largest contributor to fires on TCHC properties.
It's never too late to include a no smoking clause in the lease of incoming tenants. It's never too late to ask current tenants to commit to keeping their units smoke free.
If TCHC were a truly tenant-centric organization they would have already identified the increased risks of fire associated with the tenant population which has a higher percentage of people with disabilities and seniors than market rent buildings elsewhere.
Also there definitely needs to be an assessment regarding the increased risks of fires with those that smoke while having oxygen tanks in their units and those with a propensity for hoarding. Both these conditions are at an increased risk as people age. This is a glaringly obvious issue that one could only hope the newly designated seniors division will be taking into consideration when determining what type of services they are offering the tenants in seniors buildings.
Then we need to keep in mind the fact that way too many fires happen as people flick their cigarette butts off their balconies and into dumpsters. Are those fires included in the stats? ... Or is it just those that occur inside TCHC buildings?
As it is, I currently have duct tape over both the vents in my unit (the one in my kitchen above the stove and the one in my bathroom above my toilet) Mind you that's not just to keep out smoke. It keeps out the creepy crawlies too.
Anyways, back to the issue at hand, if I could ever figure out how to pull off a class action lawsuit against TCHC my first attempt would be related to issues regarding exposure to second hand smoke.
If Toronto Community Housing Corporation is city-centric then their mandate is clearly governed by the city of Toronto's no smoking policy. If this is a tenant-centric organization then I encourage them to consult with tenants regarding the implementation of a no smoking policy.
It seems like a much more realistic and practical approach than having June designated as Fire Safety Awareness Month by TCHC and Toronto Fire Services. If, as CEO Kathy Milsom recently indicated, TCHC truly wanted to change the behaviours of tenants related to any fire life safety plan then maybe they should start with changing the rules. No more of this blowing smoke up everyone's ass.