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October 29, 2007 permalink
Neighbors of a group home for teenaged girls complain of problems with parking, noise and inmates removed in handcuffs. Not mentioned in the article, many CAS wards have a mom or dad, or both, willing to care for them, but were relocated by force of arms.
Resident wants group home laws changed
MPP says no notification because "nobody wants them"
OSHAWA -- All Angela Borysenko wants is to have a say in what happens in her neighbourhood.
The north Oshawa resident says her world was turned upside down this summer when a group home for youth opened down the street from her house on Iris Court.
"We've had problems with parking and traffic, we've had problems with noise and children being taken away from the home in handcuffs, but the thing that bothers us the most is that we had no say in the matter. We weren't even told this was happening," she said at a recent meeting of council's development services committee. "The process has to be changed."
Ms. Borysenko and other neighbours only discovered a group home would be located at 220 Iris Crt., after they noticed renovations at the property during the summer and questioned a contractor.
Weeks later, Ontario Family Group Homes sent a letter to neighbourhood residents explaining that the home would house young women ages 12-16, in the care of various Children's Aid Societies in Ontario.
An open house was held to introduce the group home to the neighbourhood on Sept. 19, but Ms. Borysenko still feels her concerns are unresolved.
"We want the laws completely changed. They shouldn't be able to put group homes in single family neighbourhoods, just like you couldn't put a lodging house here," she says. "If this was a business it would be forced to close and this is technically a business."
Officials at Ontario Family Group homes did not respond to requests for comment.
Ward 5 Councillor John Henry acknowledges group homes provide a vital service, but says the lack of consultation and communication with the community is unacceptable. He wasn't even aware of this latest group home in his ward until residents called him to complain.
Councillor Louise Parkes, who chairs the development services committee also sympathizes, but said there is little the City can do.
"As a municipality, we have zero control with regards to location of these homes. That's all done by the Province," she said. "All we can do is hope the people who provide them would have good judgment."
According to Anne Machowski, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the only guidelines used when deciding where to locate youth group homes are municipal zoning, fire and health standards.
She said the Ministry monitors children's residences through an annual licensing renewal process, which assesses things like whether the children are receiving appropriate care and whether municipal bylaws are being complied with.
Those applying for a licence must provide a range of documentation including program proposals, descriptions of the intended client population and written evidence of community consultation -- something Ms. Borysenko insists was not done in this case.
Where there are issues, Ms. Machowski said the Ministry's regional office may become involved to help resolve them.
Oshawa MPP Jerry Ouellette couldn't comment on this specific group home without more information, but said this isn't the first time he has dealt with this issue.
"There is no requirement for pre-notification for residents that these homes are going in and that upsets some people," he said. "There's no requirement because nobody wants them anywhere and where would you put them if you notified people and everyone was against it?" He said the Province needs to do a better job of differentiating between good owners providing the service to help children and those just in it for the money.
In the meantime, the MPP said concerned residents should take their concerns to the operator first, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Source: Durham Region website
pointed out by a Dufferin VOCA reader