A downtown halfway house has Hamilton politicians fearful enough to insist it’s taken right out of the city, but local police say they don’t get an unusual number of calls to the location.
Hamilton police are called to the federal halfway house at 94 York Blvd. about 14 times a year, said Chief Glenn De Caire. And that’s not an unusual amount.
“If you look at just calls for service, 14 calls to any particular address is not an unusual number that calls for concern,” he said after a police services board meeting Monday.
Councillors have been concerned about the halfway house, located in the Salvation Army building across from Jackson Square, for about 10 years.
In 2004, one of its residents walked across the street and stabbed a shopkeeper nearly to death. That prompted city officials to ask Ottawa to take it right out of Hamilton – a request, the city argues, that got tacit approval.
Corrections Canada spokespeople have told CBC Hamilton that discussions continue to remove the halfway house, which is home to former convicts with long-term sentences, many with mental health issues. Its lease expires in December. But Mayor Bob Bratina says it’s been at least two years since any meeting has taken place.
The issue resurfaced earlier this year when Corrections Services Canada announced that it would remove the three corrections officers working at the facility as of April 2014.
With the three corrections officers gone, commissionaires, parole officers and one police officer will work at the facility.
Police calls to the facility are mostly for administrative violations, not violent crimes, De Caire told board members. The police service has no jurisdiction over the halfway house.
“What we are concerned about is the safety of Hamiltonians, and any of those facilities located anywhere in this city are of concern to us,” he said. “That’s why we’re working cooperatively with the agencies.”
City council has asked the Hamilton Police Services board to report to the general issues committee on any concerns around safety and security regarding the location of the halfway house.