Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Springfield rejects group home for mentally challenged adults

New Directions, an agency with a long and respected history in Winnipeg, has been rejected in their bid to open a group home in the RM of Springfield:

New Directions wants to set up a group home for two developmentally and physically challenged men in a 1,580-square-foot bungalow on a six-acre property it purchased on Aspen Glen Road, near the Elmhurst Golf and Country Club.

The property is zoned rural residential and New Directions applied to rezone it to institutional.

Area residents opposed the rezoning and a petition bearing more than 200 names was delivered to the RM at Monday's meeting. Councillors unanimously rejected the rezoning application.

From the Free Press. Lindor Reynolds summarizes the locals' paranoia here:

They were not going to build a warehouse for the criminally insane. They simply wanted to use the house to give a safe, rural setting to two men. It would be well-staffed, with two employees awake at all times to supervise their charges.

Two-hundred-and-eighty-one people signed a petition against the group home.

Some residents claimed they were concerned about traffic problems. Others said they feared for their children. Someone else suggested emergency vehicles wouldn't be able to get through.

One pre-existing bungalow. Two residents. Two staff. That's it.

But under all those concerns, real or imagined, was a deeper fear. Someone spread the rumour that the home was going to be used for sex offenders. Not just sex offenders, mind you, but sex offenders with mental-health problems. Is it at all surprising the community protested the group home?

There was no truth to the rumour but, as is always the case in these sorts of conflicts, that didn't matter. The damage was done. Jennifer Frain, the executive direction of New Directions, says her agency received only one phone call after it contacted residents to tell them about the proposal. The resident was spoken to and, according to Frain, mollified.

Source. The thing is, a lot of folks in rural communities move there from the city because they're terrified of anyone who might be different from them. They are the other, and should not be seen in a decent community of rich white folks. Think about the children! Worse, think about the poor parents having to explain to their kids why such people exist!

Not surprisingly, after this happened the Native Addictions Council of Manitoba withdrew their application to place a treatment centre in Springfield. Given what the yokels did to New Directions, it was a foregone conclusion anyhow.