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'Unacceptable' illicit substances found in air at Victoria supportive housing facility

Cool Aid, which operates the Tally Ho facility on Douglas Street, says measures are being put in place to reduce the smoke and protect staff
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The Tally-Ho on Douglas Street. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A supportive-housing facility in Victoria was found to have unacceptable levels of illicit substances in the air, putting staff and other residents at risk.

According to a letter circulated to staff and obtained by CHEK News , Cool Aid, which operates the Tally Ho facility on Douglas Street, said measures are being put in place to reduce the smoke and protect staff.

It said visitors are no longer permitted on the property and security has been hired to enforce the policy.

Cool Aid staff will also be wearing respirators. The letter also said smoking is only allowed in designated areas and those who continue to smoke in their rooms will be given notices that will end in evictions.

Fencing is being installed in front of the building to deter non-residents from hanging around, the letter said, adding the amount of smoke coming in from the front vestibule is “highly contributing” to air quality inside the building.

“We need to continue to take significant measures to ensure we can operate and keep everyone safely housed,” the letter added. “To put it bluntly, if we don’t have staff, we don’t have a building.”

The letter advised residents not to take out their frustrations on staff “who are just doing their jobs.”

WorkSafeBC told the Times Colonist it is aware of the issue and is working on specific site issues with Cool Aid.

In an emailed statement, WorkSafeBC said employers must take steps to protect their workers from exposure to second-hand smoke from unregulated drugs or any other source.

“Employers are responsible for ensuring a risk assessment is conducted by a qualified person to determine what the exposure levels of unregulated substances are at their site and putting controls in place.”

The agency pointed out that workers in the province have the right to refuse unsafe work, citing the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that spells out the right of a worker to refuse work if there is reasonable cause to believe it would create an undue hazard to their health and safety.

dkloster@timescolonist.com