Cossitt Place residents still want group home gone

Gary
Gary Kean
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The frustrated residents of Cossitt Place feel their concerns are being glossed over and they are vowing to keep trying to have the group home on their street removed.

The neighbours went public this week after saying they have endured numerous incidents involving the youth who are residents at the home operated by Blue Sky Family Care in Corner Brook.

They say the young people are constantly swearing loudly outside the home, are trespassing on neighbourhood properties and are outside the home making a racket in the wee hours of the morning. They say the police have been called to home on many occasions since it opened in early June.

They are mostly upset the group home was allowed to be established on their street without them being given any prior notice.

The City of Corner Brook has told the residents the home did not require a permit to operate as it is essentially a residence like any other, according to the city’s view of the relevant legislation.

Blue Sky has said the neighbours may have been blowing incidents out of proportion and that it’s just a matter of time before they become more accepting of their newest neigbours.

Blue Sky operates the group home as part of a contract it as awarded by the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. Minister Clyde Jackman hopes a meeting held Tuesday morning between the disgruntled neighbours and representatives from Blue Sky will help lead to a better understanding of the group home’s presence and more stable relations between everyone living in the area.

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon, according to Glenn Knee, one of the neighbours who has been speaking out against the home. Knee and other unhappy neighbours met with Blue Sky Tuesday morning and, later in the evening, met with their MHA, Vaughn Granter.

“They keep trying to sugarcoat the issues and refused to answer some of the questions we had for them because they said it would be a violation of confidentiality and all that stuff,” Knee said of the response the residents have received from Blue Sky and Jackman’s comments.

Unreasonable aggressors

Knee said the residents have been made out to look like unreasonable aggressors in the situation.

“If these were normal kids, we wouldn’t even notice them being there,” said Knee. “We tolerated so much before we reached our breaking point and had to start reporting them.”

Tuesday’s meeting with Blue Sky was a good one, said Knee, but he added the neighbourhood’s concerns have not been allayed.

“We’re still concerned for our personal safety and our comfort level,” he said.

Around 150 people from the Cossitt Place and surrounding neighbourhood have signed a petition Knee plans to present to Corner Brook city council next week.

“I guess the city is being careful, but I think they have passed the buck,” Knee said of the city saying there is nothing it can do about the group home opening up.

“The message I want everyone to understand in Corner Brook is that they could be in your neighbourhood tomorrow — these same kids and these same issues.”

Granter, meanwhile, said he will be bringing the concerns of the residents to the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services and with Jackman himself.

“I really understand where the residents are coming from, especially since this was unbeknownst to them,” Granter said of the lack of notice given to the neighbours before the group home opened.

The MHA said he will be following up by trying to get the particulars of the contract signed and whether the company was supposed to consult with the neighbours in advance. Granter said he will also be looking into the issue of staffing levels at the group home, as per the contract stipulations.

Granter promised to forward information to the residents and welcomed them to stay in communication with him on the issue.

“As the member of the House of Assembly, I do have to represent the needs and wishes of the residents that are in the neighbourhood and raise their concerns, if they have any,” said Granter. “That’s what I’m doing through this process.”

Knee said he told Granter this issue is not about to go away anytime soon and the neighbours are already considering their legal options if the situation is not worked out to their satisfaction.

“The bottom line is this is a for-profit business,” said Knee. “They aren’t doing it because they love these kids. They’re doing it to make money. That’s how we feel.”

Organizations: Department of Child, Youth and Family Services

Geographic location: Blue Sky, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • ticked off
    June 27, 2014 - 11:59

    seriously, let's force children out of the closest thing to a home, or safe space of any kind, they've ever had because they're walking on our lawns and saying words we don't enjoy hearing? You all sound like a bunch of amoral, selfish, heartless nutjobs. Move yourselves, you have no legal or moral ground to walk on.

  • my opinion
    June 26, 2014 - 10:57

    I totally agree with Mr. Knee that this type of group home could be coming to your street if not dealt with now. Who would  want this in their neighborhood. I believe the tranquility of our neighborhoods could be at risk. I can't believe Mayor Charles Pender and council members believe that this is a normal activity for our neighborhoods and we should accept it and require no permit application and public notice so we can respond. Keith Cormier you may recall the inaction of the city on your request for attention of the famous cat house near your residence, to deny the property owners a reasonable hearing on this commercial business by the city is wrong. This is a for profit corp. subject to permits and hearings. Marystown and Stephenville have both denied permits for such group housing. Why are the province and the City of Corner Brook bringing this to our neighborhoods? Find another solution. If the examples of the lack of discipline and disrespect to property owners on Cossitt Place are true then we all have a problem. The police are not going to do anything with this. This is a City of Corner Book issue. Deal with it Mayor Pender and stop giving lip service. Property owners have right to be heard and decide for themselves.... Keep up the battle Mr.Knee...

  • Samantha Endicott
    June 26, 2014 - 10:57

    This story caught my attention this mining when I recieved an informal letter in my mail box. This letter stated the concerns some residents of Cossit Place and Sunnyslope Drive have regarding the youth residents living in a home on Cossit Place. I was absolutely disgusted to read the nonsense that the neighbours were stating. These young adults have been placed at this residence to better their futures and recieve the proper guidence they need and deserve. If it weren't for the 24 hour care these kids are provided with they may only become more troubled as they grow older. On another note these children are most likely catching wind of the uncomfortable neighbours which I'm sure for a troubled child will only prevoke them to continue to act out. The letter also stated that these children were trespassing on private property which in fact is the exact same thing the person who delived this absurd letter has done. I fully support the care takers of these kids and the environment they are providing, the upset neighbours should be more supportive in giving these kids a second chance.

    • bob
      June 26, 2014 - 12:18

      Samantha, you sound very concerned for the well being of these youths. That is very sweet of you. However, you must realized that if these youths were receiving 24 hour supervision, as you believe, then they would not be out on their own and causing trouble for the neighborhood. Yes, we should all be willing to accept those less fortunate and help out. But this is a case where there is a for profit company that is, for lack of a better work, dumping these youths off in the neighborhood and not properly caring for them (in my opinion). If they were being cared for, the police would not be wasting their time up at that group home all the time. You realize that they have already arrested one of the youth there for utter threats against one of the neighbors (as has been reported in the media)? If that child was receiving the care and guidance that this group home is supposed to be providing, how would this have been able to happen? Now, I am sure that you are a great person for showing the sympathy for these youths (and the distain for those who oppose the group home), but do you really think that the problem that the neighbors have is with the youths themselves? If so, you are looking at the issue only on the surface. You need to think about what is really happening here. The real issue here is the services being provided by Blue Sky. The company that is supposed to be looking after these children does not appear to be doing a very good job (otherwise, the police would not be there all the time). So, if you really feel so much sympathy for these children and think that the neighbors are so bad for not accepting the situation, why don't you help out yourself and go be a foster parent to one of the troubled youth in the group home that is acting out? Why not welcome the one who just got arrested for utter threats into your home with your family? Perhaps you great parenting skills can help to turn this youth’s life around and make a difference. If you are not willing to do this, to deal with the problems of this child, then you have no right to criticize the neighbors for not wanting to have to deal with the troubled youth. Now, what do you have to say??? As for the person who dropped off the handout in your mail box who you accuse of trespassing; did they also threatening you and urinate on your house etc? And do you also accuse the mailman/paperboy of trespassing also when they drop stuff off in your mail box?