Special Report: Radial Separation

Care Facilities at a Crossroads

The ongoing case of Lynwood Charlton Centre exposes serious problems with how the city currently regulates care facilities.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 13, 2012

Can the City of Hamilton regulate the location of correctional facilities and corrections residences without discriminating against residential care facilities?

The ongoing case of Lynwood Charlton Hall has exposed some serious problems with how the City currently regulates a variety of care facilities without providing clear answers as to what tools, if any, the city can use without violating the Ontario Human Rights Code.

History

Charlton Hall was established in 1961 on Charlton Avenue West by Big Sisters to care for and treat teenage girls with serious mental illness. It has an annual budget of $1.3 million and a capacity to look after eight girls with professional social and mental health workers.

Many of the young women who have gone through Charlton Hall have been traumatized, neglected, and abused - physically, mentally and sexually. Many suffer from eating disorders, depression and poor self-esteem, but they are at risk of harming themselves, not the community in which they live.

For 50 years, Charlton Hall was a facility for teenage girls who suffered serious mental illness. It has provided a safe place to live, supportive staff to help girls learn how to manage their emotions and cope with the challenges they face. Over a thousand young women have lived in the home since it opened.

When Big Sisters merged with Big Brothers in 2003, Charlton Hall became an independent facility. In June 2011, Charlton Hall merged with Lynwood Hall, a day program for at-risk youth and planned to move into the Lynwood facility on Augusta Street, as the Charlton building had become seriously run-down and in need of expensive repairs.

However, this plan ran afoul of the City of Hamilton's Radial Separation Bylaw, which mandates a minimum 300 metre distance between two facilities that are identified under the Bylaw.

Radial Separation Bylaw

The Radial Separation Bylaw was born from a 1999 review of existing bylaws across the six municipalities to be amalgamated, related to the various types of managed care facilities that were licenced either by the City or another level of government.

It was designed to prevent ghettoization through a high concentration of social services in a small geographic area, and identifies four different types of facility that fall under its purview:

Defenders of the Bylaw note that it exists to prevent over-concentration of social service facilities and ensure that each neighbourhood gets a "fair share" of such facilities. The City maintains a list of facilities, but acknowledges that it is not comprehensive or current.

The Bylaw seeks to prevent over-concentration by mandating a minimum distance between facilities. However, it does not distinguish between the different types of facilities or consider how many people stay at a given facility.

Council Rejection

In January of 2012, some Corktown residents objected to the plan to move Lynwood Charlton out of the city-owned house on Charlton into a house on Augusta that Lynwood Charlton owns and currently uses as a day facility.

The debate turned around accusations of dishonesty from Lynwood Charlton about its intentions for the property, coupled with fear of "undesirables" who are "feeding a perception that it's an unsafe place to live".

Councillors on the planning committee backpedaled from the proposal, noting that the Augusta location would be less than 300 metres from two other facilities that are regulated by the Bylaw.

Just to be clear, they could easily have voted to approve a variance, as Council does routinely for applicants who want permission for a use that is inconsistent with an existing zoning rule.

Alex Thomson, the executive director of Lynwood Charlton, said they were open to an alternate location if it met their needs, but staff came back in April with a report that there were no feasible alternative sites.

Support for Young Women

RTH spoke with Thomson by telephone about the facility and the planned move to Augusta.

The facility looks after eight young women with serious mental health issues. Its mandate is to assist the girls in recouping to family life or to safe independent living. The average length of occupancy is around seven to eight months, during which child and youth workers help the girls learn to manage their affairs and control their emotions.

The centre does not systematically track the progress of its residents after they leave the facility, but it does evaluate their progress using the Provincial assessment tools to ensure they are making improvement.

From January 2009 to December 2011, a total of 366 police calls were made in connection to Charlton Hall. Of those calls, 331 or 90.5 percent, were for missing persons.

The organization's policy is to report a girl missing if she has not returned by midnight. The next day, a police officer will discreetly visit the Centre to get more information and a photograph if available. The Centre usually calls the police at least two or three more times to follow up or report that the girl has returned. Each of those counts as a police call, so one missing person will generate several calls.

The remaining 9.5 percent of calls were for a variety of reasons, chiefly mental health issues. Five calls, or 0.01 percent, were for assault - a resident assaulted a staff member or another resident.

Reason for the Merger

The City of Hamilton had commissioned an independent engineering report that concluded the property needed $1.2 million in repairs. The city would like to declare the building surplus and sell it. Charlton Hall rented the building from the City and knew about the City's long-term objective for the property.

The merger with Lynwood Hall was proposed as a way to move the facility out of the Charlton property and consolidate two similar operations in a single building. The Lynwood building on Augusta has 5,000 square feet of available space on the second floor that can more easily accommodate the program.

Thomson noted that the Charlton property splits the program across two buildings and three floors, whereas the new facility will be all on one floor, allowing for better supervision and more effective service delivery.

"We're a charitable, not for profit organization, we need to be as effective as possible. This allows us to deliver the same programs using one building instead of two. We've got overhead in both buildings - heat, hydro, a part-time janitor who goes back and forth between them."

The new facility will continue to look after eight girls, so the merger is a consolidation, not an expansion.

Community Engagement

Thomson says they engaged early with Councillor Jason Farr to propose the merger and explain how it would support their programs as well as meeting the city's goal to sell the Charlton house. "We had an open house that not many people attended. We put out thousands of flyers, we met with Councillor Farr right away and he seemed supportive."

He recognizes that there is fear among some neighbours and intends to work with the community to build bridges of communication and trust. "We just put out a flyer to let people know that we're removing the walls in the second floor so that we'll have a space ready to start renovating the facility once we get approval."

He also believes that a lot of the fear is based on misinformation about what they are doing and what impacts it will have. "With our new facility on a single floor, we'll actually be able to do even better with supervising and caring for these young women."

He is confident that the merger will be allowed to go ahead.

Ontario Human Rights Code

Early this year, Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall advised Hamilton that the Bylaw violates the Ontario Human Rights Code, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, disability, age (18 and over, 16 and over in occupancy of accommodation), marital status (including same sex partners), family status, receipt of public assistance (in accommodation only), and record of offences (in employment only).

In a letter to City Council, Hall wrote:

It is illegal to make planning decisions based on people, instead of on land use and other legitimate planning principles. We are concerned that the recommendation to deny this application does not appear to have considered the potential impact on vulnerable people who can be connected with the code grounds of both disability and age.

She warned that zoning rules are supposed to regulate land use, not people. In an interview with the Spectator, Hall said, "We wouldn't think that we could, as a society, say that there's a 'fair share' of a people of a certain faith group or a particular racial group. That's pretty clear that that's not acceptable language."

A few councillors have argued that the City needs to rethink its approach. Councillor Terry Whitehead pointed out that the law allows one facility with 24 beds but rejects two nearby facilities with five beds each, while Brad Clark chided his fellow Councillors for ignoring Hall's warning: "The human rights commissioner, Barbara Hall, does not write to city councils just on a whim. Human rights always trumps planning."

Nevertheless, on April 25, Council voted 12-4 to reject the rezoning request on the basis that it would violate the Bylaw, and Lynwood Charlton announced its intention to appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Slippery Justifications

In September, as the case moved toward an OMB hearing and it became more likely that the Radial Separation Bylaw will not survive a direct legal challenge, the City changed tack and began to argue that the Augusta building would be a "comprehensive institution" rather than a residential care facility, since it would provide both a day program and extended overnight care.

City staff argued that the move would "entrench an undesirable institutional use in an area of Hamilton intended for residential development."

Meanwhile the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner formally requested to appear at the OMB appeal and argue that it violates the human rights of the residents to use zoning rules to block residential care facilities.

At a pre-hearing, the City tried to block the Commission from participating, arguing that to do so would fall beyond its mandate.

The OMB disagreed, finding that "the Commission is a proper party to the hearing" and indicating that the Commission would bring "special expertise in housing and human rights to assist the Board by providing evidence at the hearing."

'Pedophiles'

At a September Council meeting, Councillor Sam Merulla shocked observers by comparing the residents to "pedophiles".

Merulla asked Paul Mallard, the City's Director of Development Planning, to define a residential care facility. Here is a transcript of their exchange (I've edited out the "through you, Madame Chair" meeting boilerplate).

Mallard: Residential Care Facility encompasses a variety of living arrangements and support services, so it could be as what's proposed here for the eight women. It could be a home for people who have physical challenges, they could have mental challenges, it could be a halfway house, it could be people who have dependencies on alcohol or drugs or whatever, so it's all-encompassing. It covers a broad range of residents and services that are provided. By definition, they reside there because of social, emotional, mental or physical handicaps, for problems of personal distress, and it's developed for the well-being of the residents. So it's a broad spectrum of types of residents that are accommodated.

Merulla: So that would include, for instance, halfway houses you mentioned, someone from a criminal element. So let's say, for instance, hypothetically speaking, sex offenders, pedophiles. If we were talking about a house with eight sex offenders in there, and then the residential care facility, we in essence could very well be looking at that type of facility existing.

Mallard: There is a distinction between correction residences, whether or not something would fall under them, I'm not sure the program, but it is a broad catch-all for support services.

Merulla: So a halfway house would fall into that category, then.

Mallard: Essentially.

Merulla: I'm wondering, on that note, if we would even be having this discussion if we were talking about pedophiles receiving treatment as opposed to eight mental health females receiving treatment tonight. And really, who is discriminating against whom at this point?

In other words, Merulla believes that if we make an exception for Lynwood Charlton Centre, we will in effect be discriminating against convicted pedophiles!

You can watch the exchange starting at around 1:30:00 on the video.

After being criticized for comparing eight vulnerable young women to pedophiles, Merulla argued that it is the definition of a residential care facility that lumps them together and he was just trying to point this out.

He forwarded a clarifying statement by Paul Mallard:

Under the City of Hamilton Zoning By-law (6593), the definition of Residential Care Facility is inclusive and intended to provide supervised care of residents because of social, emotional, mental or physical handicaps or problems. Accordingly, Residential Care Facilities include half-way houses, addiction residences, developmentally handicapped, brain injury, etc. We cannot distinguish between the various classes of residents as that would be discriminatory and contrary to the Planning Act.

RTH contacted Mr. Mallard to request more details, but a City spokesperson advised that no one from the City can comment while the matter is under review at the OMB.

Overlapping Categories

Currently, the Bylaw defines residential care facilities, correctional facilities and corrections residences separately but treats them all the same with respect to minimum separation. Merulla maintains that they are "all lumped in the RCF category" and that the city would be discriminating against a halfway house by treating it differently from an RCF.

When the Bylaw was first passed, it also defined and included a category for seniors' residences and nursing homes, but Council voted in 2007 to remove that category of residence from regulation.

Asked why Council cannot do the same for residential care facilities that it did for nursing homes, given that they similarly occupy different categories in the Bylaw, Merulla argued:

If we were to choose to exclude mental health facilities, then it would open up the door to any mental health facility. Under the [Diagnostic Statistical Manual (Revised)], there are hundreds of mental health [issues] identified which would include sexual deviance and other mental health issues that are correlated to a danger to community.

He might have a point, however insensitively he made it at the September 26 meeting.

Record of Offences

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of a record of offences, but in employment only.

A record of offences refers to a conviction and subsequent pardon under federal law and/or a conviction under provincial law. According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, an employer cannot discriminate against a person with a record of conviction unless they can show that the record can reasonably be expected to impact the person's ability to do the job. Examples include a bus driver with dangerous driving convictions or a child-care worker with a child sexual abuse conviction.

The Commission does not comment on individual cases, but RTH received a response from Jacquelin Pegg, an inqury analyst for the Commission, on a general question about whether a municipality can regulate correctional facilities and corrections residences.

Pegg wrote, "it is unclear whether the ground of record of offences would apply to 'corrections facilities or corrections residences'" given the definition.

She did acknowledge that the Code does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of record of offences for services (section 1) or occupancy of accommodation (section 2).

However, she noted that section 11 of the Code stipulates that even if a policy does not directly discriminate based on a prohibited ground, it may nevertheless have the effect of excluding or restricting access to persons who are identified by a prohibited ground.

Based on the above, if your hypothetical bylaw, which imposes a radial separation distance requirement on corrections facilities or residences, were found to have an adverse impact on certain Code-protected groups who require the use of these facilities, then the city in question would need to provide a genuine, good faith justification for the limitation or rule.

This would involve demonstration that the needs of the affected group(s) had been accommodated to the point of undue hardship, based on the factors described (cost, outside sources of funding, health and safety).

She cited the case of Alcoholism Foundation of Manitoba v. Winnipeg (City), [1990], in which the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled against a Manitoba radial separation bylaw that "required minimum separation distances and restricted the location of group homes for older persons, people with disabilities, persons recovering from addictions and discharged penal inmates to a limited number of zones".

In other words, a halfway house has no special protection under the Code, but a halfway house for recovering addicts who have criminal convictions might be protected, since drug and alcohol dependency is considered a disability and people with disabilities are protected.

Stigma

Mental illness still carries a stigma in our society. In 2001, the Hamilton-based Offord Health Centre for Child Studies published the Ontario Child Health Study finding that one in five children has a serious mental health issue.

A recent study [PDF] on the burden of mental illness concluded that the overall burden in terms of mortality and morbidity from mental illness "is conservatively estimated at more than 1.5 times that of all cancers combined and seven times that of all infectious diseases".

It called for "a comprehensive review of evidence on effectiveness of interventions in the areas of mental health promotion and mental illness and addiction (MI&A) prevention" and suggests that this review "may have implications for priority setting and resource allocation."

With today's fragmentary, under-funded approach to mental illness, many people with serious medical needs are left untreated or under-treated, with insufficient access to the resources they need to live safely. Too often, the criminal justice system becomes the service provider of last resort for people with mental illness.

What Cities Can Do

In 2012, the Ontario Human Rights Commission published a report called In The Zone: Housing, Human Rights and Municipal Planning [PDF], which asserted that equal treatment with respect to housing is guaranteed under the Ontario Human Rights Code and stated clearly that municipalities are obliged to honour that right in their zoning rules.

Affordable housing (which includes social housing and market rental housing, lodging houses, and many other housing forms) and housing that is accessible and barrier-free help build attractive, liveable and economically competitive communities. Housing is the foundation for stable living conditions, and a key starting point for financial stability and being included in the community

Recognizing the role of NIMBY in the debate over housing, the report states:

A key part of achieving inclusive neighbourhoods where all residents feel welcome to live, work and play is taking steps to overcome community opposition to affordable housing.

That effort entails a sustained, consistent effort to connect housing with human rights. It also entails a range of strategies to ensure that every community includes affordable, accessible housing to meet everyone's needs, including changes to zoning rules that accommodate more flexible building uses.

It also entails making the argument, as the Ontario Government makes, that communities with an equitable mix of housing types "may enjoy a competitive advantage" since "the availability of a full range of housing, including affordable housing, plays an important role in a municipality's efforts to attract and retain employees and businesses, or to accommodate population growth and new investment."

It is already clear that the cost of not taking care of people with special needs is much higher than the cost of providing that care.

A 2008 study from British Columbia found that it cost $55,000 a year per homeless person, split among emergency health care, policing and social services. The study concluded that B.C. could actually save nearly $33 million a year by investing more to keep vulnerable people living in homes instead of leaving them to become homeless.

The Right to Choose Where to Live

In March 2012, the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton released a report titled The Right to Choose Where to Live [PDF], which took the Commission's position on human rights and accommodation as a starting point.

The report noted that many of the prejudices and negative assumptions about supportive accommodations are inaccurate and unfounded.

One stereotypical concern about supportive housing is that it can negatively influence property values. But evidence in Hamilton's Durand neighbourhood, where there is a large number of supporting housing units, does not bear this out. For example, one condo building in the heart of Durand was recently able to sell individual units for over $350,000 even though four of its six closest neighbours are residential care facilities.

The report also quotes Cameron Nolan, president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, who is not aware of any research indicating that care facilities impact housing prices and has not observed any such impact in his experience.

The report argues that the City should use regulatory incentives to encourage supportive housing to be made available in more neighbourhoods. Today, several regulatory barriers in neighbourhoods outside the core effectively prohibit such uses:

These are, incidentally, the same barriers that enforce a land use and building form comprised of single use sprawl.

More bluntly, some suburban communities, like Ancaster, still maintain actual bans on care facilities.

Legal Challenges

Several other cities have also face legal challenges over similar radial separation bylaws, including Toronto, Kitchener, Sarnia and Smiths Falls. Sarnia voted to eliminate its bylaw instead of defending it.

In an interview with The Hamiltonian, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley explained that his city decided to drop its radial separation bylaw after a human rights complaint was brought forward.

He offered the following advice to Hamilton: "The only advice I would offer Hamilton is to ask the following question: 'Do you want to have two classes of citizens in your community?'"

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

27 Comments

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 08:37:13

In other words, Merulla believes that if we make an exception for Lynwood Charlton Centre, we will in effect be discriminating against convicted pedophiles!

Look, it wasn't the best way to say it, but he's technically correct. Under the current law, there is no distinction between care facilities for mentally ill teenage girls and corrections residences that may or may not house pedophiles.

I know this is going against the grain here, but I'm in favour of the Radial Separation Bylaw. There are three RCFs (I'm not sure if they're for corrections purposes or mental health purposes) near my house that are problematic. Police are often there, there have been assaults committed by the residents, etc. I think the bylaw needs to be amended so that things like Lynwood Charlton and hospices aren't covered by it, and maybe 300m is a bit big, but I think that, in general, it's something we should have.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 09:02:39 in reply to Comment 82794

I tend to agree with these points. there is a reason for the radial separation. It sounds as though this girls' home got caught in the crossfire, and I hope a resolution can be reached in this case. But to toss out the separation bylaw altogether would be a big mistake. Especially when areas of our city have outright bans (Ancaster, as Ryan mentions in this piece).

If we're truly looking for equity and 'rights' we should be doing away with bans, and instead look to have these facilities located in mixed communities instead of piling them on top of each other in Corktown, Stinson, Beasley, Durand and elsewhere downtown.

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By dsafire (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:25:38 in reply to Comment 82801

Im in agreement here. I think considering this particular situation, an exception should be made because it is essentially replacement of an existing facility.

But living a block away from not one, but two RCFs in the Stinson area that both have incidents requiring police presence on a regular basis im firm in the belief that the radial separation law needs to stay on the books.

Otherwise there is a very real danger of creating a ghetto of care facilities. Here in Stinson we practically have a facility on every street. We're saturated here because of the number of large old victorians suitable for such facilities.

In the end, whats the difference between having the mentally unstable and developmentally disabled living all on one street and having them all in a hospital facility? None really that I can see. The point of halfway houses and RCF's is to integrate residents into society. When the area becomes this heavily saturated, that benefit is lost, and the whole thing becomes pointless warehousing of people with disabilities.

Comment edited by dsafire on 2012-11-13 11:26:22

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 09:00:38 in reply to Comment 82794

Look, it wasn't the best way to say it, but he's technically correct.

The bylaw separately defines residential care facilities, corrections residences, correctional facilities and emergency shelters, but treats them all the same with respect to radial separation. The bylaw used to regulate seniors residences as well, but Council voted in 2007 to remove them.

The matter of what is encompassed under residential care facilities is less cut-and-dried. As Paul Mallard noted, there is overlap between RCFs and correctional residences like halfway houses, but the bylaw does draw a distinction and Council could try to regulate them separately.

As for the Ontario Human Rights Code, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of a record of offences for the purpose of employment but not for the purpose of accommodation.

Now, there is some overlap in that a residence for convicted criminals might also serve as a support home for addictions or other mental disabilities, in which case a bylaw that regulates where the residence can go may have the effect of discriminating against people with disabilities.

In that case, according to the Commission, the city would have to a) "provide a genuine, good faith justification for the limitation or rule" and b) "demonstrat[e] that the needs of the affected group had been accommodated to the point of undue hardship".

One thing is clear: there is no justification to continue a radial separation bylaw on residence for people who are clearly protected by the Code.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-11-13 09:02:40

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By ThisIsOurHamilton (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 09:04:53

I've been actively involved in observing and commenting on the Lynwood-Charlton situation from the January 17th Planning Committee meeting, on. (As witnessed by the assortment of articles at My Stoney Creek.)

The amount of misinformation. of entrenchment in 'Us vs Them' mentalities disseminated should have been thoroughly discouraging to any caring Hamiltonian.

While I'm sure that ll the parties involved have the best of intentions (I acknowledge that this statement alone could set off a self-righteous firestorm), there have been aspects of 'questionable behaviour' on all fronts.

I've been gobsmacked at how both 'villains' and 'victims' have been created, and campaigns waged concentrating on both presumptions as well as badly-framed indignation. So, a round of shaking-head to those on Council who clearly can't appreciate the damage they do when insisting on 'the letter of the law' and not understanding the implications of such arbitrary bloody-mindedness, to Lynwood-Charlton for having taken the tack they have from the filing of the request for a variation on the Radial Separation Bylaw and bad communication about their intents (watch/listen to the Committee broadcast. All five hours' worth.), those residents who were either disinterested in sorting things out with L-C or resorting to a variation of NIMBYism, to those who have felt inclined to make a cause of 'these girls' while clearly not understanding the Continuum of Mental health (there is no 'them', there's only 'us', because virtually none of us are absolutely and perfectly 'healthy' mentally or emotionally), to those who choose to execute a variation of 'wrapping the issue in the flag', rendering all discussion almost impossible...and to mainstream media for handling the issue so badly.

However, a tip of the hat to RTH for finally deeming this to be a sufficiently important issue concerning the Quality of Life in our city to devote an appropriately-thorough article to it...some ten months after the situation really began to unfold. Well done.

Comment edited by ThisIsOurHamilton on 2012-11-13 09:07:12

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:17:12

On the one hand, it really is absurd... I mean, we're talking about what... 8 teenaged girls? This isn't exactly some massive juvie hall or a methadone clinic.

On the other hand, how many care facilities are there in Ancaster? Upper Stoney? How many are on Upper Wellington? The radial separation bylaw was created for a legitimate reason. You can argue that it's badly-crafted and discriminatory, but still... there is a real problem it was created to solve.

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By Detente (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:53:06

What about discarding radii and just rationing a fixed per-capita service population per ward, recalibrated with each census?

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By To detente (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 13:35:53

The problem, Detente, is that the municipality isn't in charge of allocating these services. All it does is allow (or, really, refuse) their chosen locations. Considering also that those locations are going to tend to have a clustering effect, to some degree at least, since their clients are likely to consume related services, radial separation by laws or even rationing/allocation schemes that say "so many" can go in a certain area can have the effect of making service provision unworkable. This prevents needed services from existing, making everyone worse off but some people happier because the problem is less visible. For example, if Merulla's pedophiles aren't living in a group home getting help and tools to avoid recidivism (because a facility couldn't get planning approval and was never built), they're still pedophiles. How's that a solution?

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By Detente (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 14:24:17 in reply to Comment 82850

I confess to wrestling with a fulsome balance, much as human rights advocates surely struggle to sell ghettoization as a virtue.

Whatever your POV, it's good that we're having this conversation. It was never going to be a comfortable one, but it needed airtime.

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By Detente (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 14:27:32 in reply to Comment 82857

*Meant "fulfilling" rather than "fulsome".

(I know, register.)

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 13:43:27

comment from banned user deleted

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By RB (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 14:27:40

Anyone know where Alex Thomson lives? I just wonder how many RCF's are close to his home? It just kind of puts things into perspective.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 18:51:24

Thank you for this, Ryan.

I've been pretty shocked by some of the language I've read regarding this girls' home. What if it were your little sister they were talking about? Funny how much easier it is to get the city to enact exclusionary zoning for something that isn't a condominium or toxic waste dump, ain't it?

I grew up with group homes all over my neigbhbourhood. Within a block of my home and across the street from my elementary school. They never caused any more disruption than area rich kids. And believe me, it doesn't compare at all to living in an area filled with people unable to find places in care homes.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 19:00:59

choice. our family chose corktown as the neighbourhood to best raise our family in. any family or any individual(s) with or without emotional/behavioral/mental issues are welcome and have a legally protected right to choose corktown as a place to live in. howdy neighbour. the clients and patients of lynwood charlton did not choose to live in corktown. they chose or were forced to choose a secure, private residential mental health care facility to help them get well. the private operator of this secure residential mental health care facility for youths has chosen corktown for financial reasons. i cant see the comparison between a persons justified right to live where they want and a private company trying to use site consolidation to help their bottom line.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 15, 2012 at 08:09:07 in reply to Comment 82876

a private company trying to use site consolidation to help their bottom line.

Lynwood Charlton is a cash-strapped charitable non-profit organization trying to operate more effectively with limited resources. It's not some greedy corporation.

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By redmike (registered) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 08:09:50 in reply to Comment 82936

fine. my amends "cash-strapped charitable non-profit organization trying to operate more effectively with limited resources trying to use site consolidation to help their bottom line" it still doesnt address my point that NONE of the clients of charlton hall CHOSE to live in corktown. and in regards to l.c.h being a not for profit? in my eyes they have acted like a greedy corporation. for instance, the administrators at l.c.h hall KNEW of the radial seperation bylaw. they went so far as to hire a private consultant, hamilton fixer fothergill to help try and gain influence with city hall and the run the p.r campaign. l.c.h told residents and city officials they only wanted beds for eight, then there are people involved in the process that say l.c.h has made queries about the vacant property beside the site in question. bed capacity if they buy the vacant building? 40 to 50. so, to recap: l.c.h choose a site they know breaks city bylaws, hire a political fixer to help them grease the move, threaten the city with legal action when that doesnt work,then possibly mislead residents and city officials as to what their final plans are for the facility? sounds like the hamilton tiger cats, not the march of dimes.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 16, 2012 at 08:30:53 in reply to Comment 82954

That's a highly slanted summary of events.

The City told Charlton Hall it wanted them out of the building eventually. Charlton and Lynwood Hall decided to merge and consolidate their operations in the Lynwood building, which had 5,000 square feet of unused space on the second floor. That would save grant/donor money, which is extremely scarce right now, while making more effective use of existing facilities and vacating a building the City wants to sell.

The organization applied for a variance to move their operations together, as companies and organizations do all the time. That's perfectly legal and a normal functioning of the zoning system, since Council has the power to grant exceptions to its own zoning bylaws on a case-by-case basis.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-11-16 08:45:20

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By redmike (registered) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 17:56:38 in reply to Comment 82957

"That's a highly slanted summary of events" i have my slant, you have yours. was anything i posted not factual?

"while making more effective use of existing facilities and vacating a building the City wants to sell" back to my original post about the ridiculous assertions that this all about peoples RIGHT to live where they want.my post states that this is a right all INDIVIDUALS share, not corporations selling burgers or not for profits helping troubled teens.

"That's perfectly legal and a normal functioning of the zoning system, since Council has the power to grant exceptions to its own zoning bylaws on a case-by-case basis" yes, applying for zoning variances and hiring political consultants and p.r firms and lobbyists is legal. so is going to the OMB. back to my response to your comment, this is also what greedy corporations like the ti-cats do.

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By rules for some but not for all (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:56:46 in reply to Comment 82957

Maybe they should not have had all that vacant space sitting around. Maybe they should have leased that to offices or something else more creative. What are they, the school board? Here's an idea - downsize.

Then, in a city absolutely full of "available space", they pick a spot that they know is illegal to move to.

They are acting like the nihlist's girlfriend in the Big Lebowski. "It's not fair! she cut off her toe! she thought she would get a million dollars!"

Now the human rights commission is involved. What a waste of time and resources..

You know what? My human rights are violated every time I have to step back onto the curb at a crosswalk to avoid getting creamed by a car. This is because the city has designed our streets so that drivers never have to stop for pedestrians - it's not MY fault. Where's the human rights commission when it comes to the kind of stuff that actually puts our physical bodies in harm's way?

How about this: make your facilities more efficient and find a location that is a legal use and stop wasting all of our time and money on this crap.

LCH has dragged all of us taxpayers into this stupid fight over nothing, and we are funding all of the sides of the lawsuit, including the judges and courtroom costs. It's all our money lining the pockets of lawyers and government employees. Over NOTHING.

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 19:09:23

"They never caused any more disruption than area rich kids"

I grew up in London in a middle class neighbourhood and completely agree Undustrial with what you are saying, rich kids had access to Daddy's car and were driving around drunk and what have you on the weekends, group home kids I didn't see that for obvious reasons as you mention.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 19:13:01 in reply to Comment 82877

Yes-- group home kids tend to be supervised and cared-for-- funny how it works that way.

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By A Zoning and People Issue (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 20:20:01

On the one hand, we read accolades for school board plans to distribute populations across the City, while on the other, we are told that to try and do so with living arrangements is discriminatory. It seems to me that enabling the concentration of marginalized populations is only likely to marginalize them more. This is a zoning and a people issue.

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By ThisIsOurHamilton (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 21:04:21

Is there, and has there been for a long time, a plan for the City to divest itself of 52-56 Charlton? I ask this because of the supposed 'deterioration' of the property as well as the anticipated rehabilitation costs. Here's my point: the August Street location is, to me, an inappropriate location for a RCF, given all its particulars. (And I'm excluding the whole Radial Separation Bylaw issue.) Especially when compared with the Charlton Street location. So what's going on here?

Seriously. We have a property that by all rights should be perfectly appropriate to the needs of L-C were it rehabbed, we have an owner (the City) that 'appears' disinclined to actually maintain the property, presuming they'd prefer to unload it (as the appropriate City department has advised) and see new buildings put up in its place, we have a property that L-C wants to own, rather than rent, in an inarguably contentious setting (they knew about the RSB when they bought the place), and so we seem to have entirely divergent needs being displayed, with both parties digging their feet in with no compromise in sight.

So here's my followup question: What will be happening to Charlton House (52-56 Charlton) once the RSB is struck down and the OMB says that L-C can follow through with its plans at 121 Augusta? Will all those who have been so vocal about this 'Us vs Them' scenario be so vocal about why this entire situation has been so badly handled by so many hands...and is probably merely a harbinger of things to come...and demand that we have a full accounting for City-held properties? Just curious.

Finally, when will we actually begin having discussions about what we want our neighbourhoods to look like, what changes we want to see, whether it be two-way reversion, school closings, 'complete streets', development, etc. And I don't mean City-driven study groups or planning charrettes. I mean general dialogue driven by citizens concerning everything that sits in the background of the Lynwood-Charlton situation, related or no, be it the limits of 'locals' determining the world they live in, or the exigencies of the downloading of services to the existence of a 'poverty industry'?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 21:55:47

It's not like services are being "concentrated" here. 52-6 Charlton already sits amidst a huge number of other residential care facilities, I'd wager at least one per block. It's being moved slightly outward into neighbourhood where services are less concentrated. At best concentration is being slightly reduced, and at worst it's being maintained. In either case, anything clustered around the city centre shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

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By Pecan (anonymous) | Posted November 15, 2012 at 21:22:33

I have not read the complete article at thins time. What has hit me as a former resident of Charlton Hall in the 60s when it was fairly new. Is was not a residence for girls with mental issues! It was for girls who for a m'imber of reasons could not live at home but were still wanting to continue their education. We came from all walks of life and for many reasons lived there to better ourselves. The mandate changed as the times,challenges and needs changed.

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By Curious (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2012 at 11:44:14

What was the HRC"s take on the city's moratoriums/bans?

http://www.hamilton.ca/Hamilton.Portal/Inc/PortalPDFs/ClerkPDFs/council/2001/sep18/5.9.pdf

1. The purpose of this By-law is to update the zoning standards and definitions of Zoning By-law No 6593 (Hamilton) respecting residential care facilities, short term care facilities, hostels, emergency shelters, retirement homes, long term care facilities, correctional facilities, and corrections residences.

2. The effect of the By-law is to make the following changes:

Residential Care Facilities, Short Term Care Facilities. Hostels, Emergencv Shelters, Retirement Homes

• to replace the terms “hostel” and “short term care facility” with a new definition of "emergency shelter” and to permit this use in zoning districts which currently permit a hostel or short term care facility use;

• to clarify the definition of residential care facility (i.e. minimum number of residents);

• to introduce a new definition of “retirement home” and to permit the use and the capacity in all zoning districts which currently permit a residential care facility;

• to increase the radial separation distance requirement to 300m from 180m for an emergency shelter, residential care facility, retirement home, corrections residence and correctional facility .

• to establish two moratorium areas where no additional residential care facilities, retirement homes, emergency shelters, corrections residence and correctional facilities will be permitted or expanded

- area bounded by Queen Street South, Markland Street, James Street South and Main Street West;

- area bounded by Wellington Street South, the railway tracks at the base of the Escarpment, Sherman Avenue South and King Street East.

Correctional Facilities, Corrections Residence

to replace the terms “gaol” and “place of detention” with two new terms - “correctional facility” and “corrections residence”

to establish a radial separation distance requirement of 300m from an emergency shelter, residential care facility, retirement home, corrections residence and correctional facility.

to permit these facilities in industrial areas and some commercial areas provided they are separated from an existing residential use or residential district by 30 m;

to establish two moratorium areas where no additional residential care facilities, retirement homes, emergency shelters, corrections residence and correctional facilities will be permitted or expanded

area bounded by Queen Street South, Markland Street, James Street South and Main Street West;

area bounded by Wellington Street South, the railway tracks at the base of the Escarpment, Sherman Avenue South and King Street East.

Long Term Care Facilities
• to replace the terms “home for the aged” and “nursing home” with one new term of ‘long term care facility’;

General Provisions
• to establish parking standards for the new uses;

• to require separation distance to be established from a residential use rather than a residential district; to delete the term “Home for Elderly Persons”.

THESE CHANGES APPLY ONLY TO THE FORMER CITY OF HAMILTON

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:02:58

I missed this when it was published a couple of weeks ago, but the OMB has ruled in favour of Lynwood Charlton Centre:

After a more than two-year battle, Lynwood Charlton Centre has won an Ontario Municipal Board challenge to locate a group home on Augusta Street.

The OMB ruling overturns the city's attempt to block the move by denying the centre a zoning bylaw amendment. The decision means that the centre for girls with mental health issues will be able to locate its eight-bed home at 121 Augusta St., home of its day treatment program and the site of a former mill.

I hope Council will recognize that its blunt Radial Separation bylaw is indefensible in its current form.

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