NDP calls for removal of fence around group home

NDP MLA Kate White is calling on the government to remove fencing from around a group home on the site of the former Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

NDP MLA Kate White is calling on the government to remove fencing from around a group home on the site of the former Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

White used to work there when it was a correctional facility, she said in an interview Tuesday.

It is now a group home called Takhini Haven, managed by Challenge – Disability Resource Group.

“It’s not ideal for a group home. It’s not deep within a neighbourhood. It’s not really close to anything, and it’s on a correctional facility property.”

When the facility was transferred for the new use, the government agreed to take down the fencing around it, said White.

And they did take down some of it – the facility is no longer fenced in on all sides.

But some of the tall, barbed-wire fencing remains, although it serves no purpose.

“You look out the kitchen windows, or the living space window, and that’s what you would see. You would see the fence,” said White.

“Do I think that someone in a group home should have a viewscape of a barbed wire fence? I don’t.”

Justice Minister Mike Nixon did not commit to removing the remaining fencing when asked to do so by White in the legislature on Monday. He did not respond to an interview request by press time.

Health Minister Doug Graham said in the legislature the question of removing the fences had not come up in the recent past.

“I know we have had discussions and I am sure the justice minister and I will continue to have those discussions with respect to what can be done to make the Takhini Haven facility more welcoming to those clients.”

Rick Goodfellow, executive director of Challenge, said in an interview Tuesday that the situation is not ideal for the group home.

“We really needed a place like that, and it was the only place available.”

Challenge took over the management of the facility in October of 2012. It currently houses five people in need of supportive housing, said Goodfellow.

He has been asking for the removal of the fence since the beginning, he said.

“We’ve asked for it, and certainly we’d sure like it if they could take it down.”

The facility is intended as a transitional home to help get people into independent living situations, said Goodfellow.

While the setting is not ideal, it’s better than nothing, he said.

“We have had folks say to us, ‘Why would you manage a place like that that’s on those grounds, isn’t that terrible?’ Of course from our standpoint, it was the only thing available, and if that’s what we have to do to make sure these guys get a healthy place to live, we’ll take with it, we’ll work

with it.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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