Group home for mentally ill welcomed in Bonnie Doon

The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta has approval to open a group home for people "with severe or persistent mental illness."

Little opposition to 21-unit facility for people with severe or persistent mental illness

This former Bonnie Doon seniors home will soon have 21 units, kitchens and common areas for people with "severe or persistent mental illness." (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Residents who live in an affluent part of an Edmonton neighbourhood are welcoming a group home for people who might otherwise be homeless.

The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta will operate the new facility for people living with severe or persistent mental illness in a former seniors residence. The facility will have 21 living units, a kitchen and a common area.

"The house will be staffed 24/7 with tenant support staff with training in mental health. Also, meals and support with medications will be provided for the tenants," Rubyann Rice, the society's executive director, wrote in an email to CBC News.

"Bonnie Doon is ideal because of excellent transit in close proximity as well as shopping and [community] services," she added.

Gerald Martin, who lives right next door to where the group home will open, is not worried about his new neighbours. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

City council approved the rezoning to allow the group home on Monday. Councillor Ben Henderson, who represents the area, said it was an easy decision.

"What we call nimby responses, I think, comes from fear and from not knowing. And then we always imagine the worst," he said.

"I think [the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta] did really good work going in early and really recognizing people's fears – not saying they weren't legitimate – but helping them understand what was really going to happen."

Gerald Martin and his wife have lived right next door to the former seniors residence for about two years.

"l'm not worried about it," he said.

"They supervise their people very closely. I think they're well looked after. And I'm not afraid that they're going to be people that are out of hand ... And to me, if it's supervised and looked after properly, it's better than if these people are on their own."

On its website, the Bonnie Doon Community League says it "has been impressed with the openness and professionalism demonstrated by [the society]." 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.