Downtown Hamilton halfway house is moving, feds confirm

A controversial federal halfway house will move from downtown by the end of 2014, and while federal officials still can’t say if it will move from the city entirely, they hope to give the city "very good news" in a few months.
Corrections Services Canada says it will move its controversial halfway house at 94 York Blvd. in downtown Hamilton. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

A controversial federal halfway house will move from downtown by the end of 2014.

And while federal officials won't say where it will be moved, there are strong indications it will be be leaving the city entirely, which councillors say would be a "historic date."

Hamilton politicians have wanted the government to move the halfway house at 94 York Blvd. for years. Corrections Canada isn't renewing its lease with the Salvation Army for the 25-bed halfway house, said Mike Ryan, acting deputy commissioner.

It can’t say yet if its residents will be moved to another Hamilton location, or out of the city entirely. But Ryan did say that he hopes to "deliver some very good news for the city of Hamilton in April or May."

Corrections Services Canada is not currently negotiating with any landlords or agencies in Hamilton, he said.

Ryan fielded questions from councillors at a general issues committee meeting Wednesday.

“We have given notice to the Salvation Army that we’re not renewing our lease this year,” he said. “We’re in negotiations with other partners in Ontario that will take up the slack of the other residents.”

As for whether the residents will still be in Hamilton, Ryan said negotiations are ongoing, and he’d know more in “four to five months.” 

The halfway house has been controversial since 2004, when a resident walked across the street to Jackson Square and stabbed a female shopkeeper nearly to death. There have been other instances of residents with violent records walking away from the facility.

Councillors expressed relief that the halfway house will move.

"Wow," Coun. Tom Jackson said when Ryan delivered the news. If the halfway house moves, it would be a "historic date."

"We're very excited about April 2014," Mayor Bob Bratina said.

Local police are called to the halfway house about 14 times per year, mostly for parole violations.

As of April, three corrections officers will be pulled from the facility and reassigned elsewhere and replaced with one reintegration officer.

The halfway house lease expires on Dec. 31, 2014. Corrections Services Canada is working now on a transition plan to vacate, Ryan said. It's unknown whether the whole facility will move, or if its residents will be dispersed to other halfway houses.

The York Boulevard location was always meant to be temporary, Ryan said. It's been there 20 years because it's been difficult to find an alternate location.

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs is tweeting live from the meeting at @SamCraggsCBC.


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