Seniors in Halifax apartment protest "bullying superintendent"

Robyn Young, CanWest News Service July 25, 2007

HALIFAX - One tenant at an independent living complex for seniors in Halifax was allegedly reprimanded for wearing slippers in the hallway.

Another was issued a warning for an inappropriate discussion about a Rummoli board.

A third tells of being yelled at by the superintendent for starting a composting bin in the common kitchen.

Close to half the residents at Almon Place, a Northwoodcare Inc. building on Almon Street, say they've been mistreated by management.

"We're having problems with the superintendents, who are bullies, intimidators - and people are afraid in here," said Stan Hennigar, who lives with his wife Donna in one of the 66 units.

A group of tenants demonstrated in front of Almon Place on Tuesday.

They protested the eviction of fellow resident Mary Vaughan for "inappropriate behaviour" such as gossiping and swearing.

"Seniors' abuse just won't be tolerated and we feel we're being abused," said Mary Vaughan.

"My mother got in trouble because as president of the social committee she was supposed to tell the superintendent when they had an event planned, and she forgot to tell them about one," said Nancy Vaughan, Mary's daughter who was one of the picketers.

The group also said they're treated like children, restrictions are put on their daily activities, and the superintendents yell at them.

A community legal worker with Dalhousie Legal Aid, who has been working with the group, said tenants have been evicted and reprimanded for "ludicrous" reasons.

"This is stuff that may be appropriate to warn people about if they were in a nursing home, but this isn't a nursing home," Megan Leslie said.

The Almon Place website boasts that it is an independent living complex, suitable for "individuals who are able to maintain a totally independent lifestyle."

But they're not being treated like independent adults, Leslie said.

She met with about 30 of them a couple of weeks ago to discuss their concerns.

The group sent a letter to Northwoodcare requesting a meeting to talk about their problems, Leslie said, but the request was denied.

John Verlinden, director of information services at Northwoodcare, said the tenants at Almon Place weren't being mistreated.

"We've worked hard to create an environment in which all people are comfortable, feel welcome and feel safe," he said.

He disagreed that the superintendents were bullying the residents.

"Sometimes there are two sides to a story or to a disagreement, and it's about trying to find balance so everyone feels comfortable, feels safe, and feels included."

Carol Snair said she and her husband have already moved out of the Almon Street building because the tension was too much for them.

They're happy in their new building, but still worry about their friends at Almon Place.

"We've just had an open door here for the poor little souls who've nowhere else to go," Snair said.

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