A young couple is fed up with Deer Lodge Centre (DLC) employees littering cigarette butts around their property and ignoring their requests to stop.
Erin and Chris Propp, who have lived at the corner of Guildford Street and Lodge Avenue behind DLC for six years, say the problem began about a year ago when the city’s new outdoor smoking bylaw began to be enforced at DLC.
Before that, employees would smoke on the south side of the Lodge, which didn’t bother the homeowners.
They say they’ve complained to DLC administration since last summer and were told employees would be asked to smoke at designated spots near Portage Avenue instead, but the smokers keep showing up.
"There’s such a mess every day out there, it’s renewed, replenished," Erin said, adding she cleaned up butts herself last summer.
"It was disgusting."
Chris said he’s spoken with some of the smoking employees about them going to smoke by Portage instead and they told him it’s too far for them to go on their break.
After the Propps sent several emails to DLC, a notice was attached to the stop sign at the end of Guildford asking employees to smoke by Portage. They say it worked, for a short time, but the problem, and the scourge of discarded butts, returned.
They say DLC told them they’d send over facility staff to clean up the mess, but they haven’t noticed it happening.
Erin said she knows the littering puffers are DLC employees.
"They’re all wearing badges and smocks and scrubs."
One woman even brought a chair over, Erin said, and for a while there was a coffee can ashtray placed near the end of their yard which she said was dumped out on the boulevard.
Réal Cloutier, chief operating officer of DLC, said he’s been aware of smokers crossing Lodge and littering since the bylaw came into effect early last year.
"We’re telling our staff they shouldn’t be smoking in front of the neighbour’s property, even though it’s public property," Cloutier said.
Because the employees are on their break and on public property there’s "no disciplinary measure" DLC can take against them, Cloutier said.
"It’s embarrassing. It’s not the image I want portrayed of Deer Lodge, and again, as a health care facility I personally find it inappropriate."
Cloutier said the centre has sent staff out to clean the mess, but until the thaw is over they can’t do a complete job. In the meantime, he said, DLC will continue to ask staff to smoke elsewhere.
"Beyond imploring them and asking them to be courteous, there’s little else we can do...there’s an area (next to Portage) which we’ve identified in a map…we’ve even drawn it on a map for them."