Neighbours concerned about proposed federal halfway house in Summerside

·2 min read
The proposed site for the halfway house is on Water Street in Summerside's east end. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
The proposed site for the halfway house is on Water Street in Summerside's east end. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

Neighbours of what could be P.E.I.'s first federal corrections halfway house are expressing concern after they said they were caught off-guard by the proposal.

The proposed site is on Water Street in Summerside's east end. It would house up to eight men, all former federal convicts released from prison on parole, on the condition they live in a supervised facility.

The centre would also allow Island residents who have served federal prison sentences to return home.

Notice had gone out to local residents and businesses, advising them a group home was being proposed for their neighbourhood.

Willard MacQuarrie, who lives beside the site, said he and his neighbours were alarmed to learn who would be living there.

"It was supposed to be a group home, which everybody I talked to, well that's for handicapped people or something like that. We were a little bit surprised to find out it is for parole prisoners from Dorchester and Springhill and maybe other places."

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

Atlantic Human Services which operates a 20-bed facility for former federal inmates in Moncton is spearheading the Summerside proposal. Security measures would include staff on site 24-7, video surveillance and strict curfews.

President and CEO Joffre Theriault said it would provide a stepping stone for Islanders returning home from prison on the mainland.

"We see a resource like this as an added value to public safety and to successful reintegration," he said. "We're another tool and another resource for the province of Prince Edward Island that can help keep the public safe but can also successfully reintegrate offenders back into the community."

Requires council approval

Theriault and officials from Correctional Service Canada will meet with local police this week to discuss the proposal. It also still requires approval from Summerside city council.

MacQuarrie and his neighbours plan to petition Summerside City Hall to put a stop to the proposal. He said he is not opposed to the idea of a halfway house, but he'd feel more comfortable if the halfway house was located somewhere further from residential areas.

"They're in jail for a reason," he said. "They're not the best upstanding citizens, shall we say."

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