Three voices on St. Leonard's halfway house controversy
Hear a resident talk about how St. Leonard's saved him, the manager talk about the need to upgrade facilities and councillor on why he wants it out of ward.
Guy, a 52-year-old Hamiltonian, said the past two and a half years have been the most stable part of his life.
A "drug addict, alcohol user and thief," he said he's spent about half of his life in jail.
Guy, who did not want to disclose his last name, is a resident at St. Leonard's, a halfway house for men who are on parole or statutory release from a federal prison. Many of the 28 men who reside at the central Hamilton facility are from Hamilton, said program director Jessica Moore.
St. Leonard's, which has been in the same century home in Ward 3 for 38 years, is embroiled in a three-year long battle with the city.
St. Leonard's wants to bring the facility at 24 Emerald Street South, built in the 1900s, up to building standards, make it accessible and provide better social services for the federal parolees who can live there as they transition back into the community.
But because the city's zoning has changed in the past 38 years, executive director John Clinton needs approval from the city to rezone before the renovations can happen.
Several councillors, including local councillor Bernie Morelli, Terry Whitehead and Brad Clark, have suggested the correctional residence move instead of renovate.
Morelli said the community is opposed to the renovations and wants more public consultation before anything is passed at council. Clinton said St. Leonard's held an open house and invited about 300 community members and officials — not one showed up.
The city has until Oct. 1 to make a decision about the proposed renovations.
Listen to Guy, Moore and Morelli speak about the home and the proposed renovations.