CAMPBELL’S BAY – After receiving $95,000 in funding in April from the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) to install four temporary accommodation rooms, Autonhomme Pontiac held an open house event, June 27, to allow the public to visit the facility and find out more about their services. Autonhomme offers services to those suffering from mental illness, or controlled addictions, those who are having problems at home, and more. A maximum of four people can stay at the facility at one time, for up to six months.
The majority of the 20 people who attended the meeting were there to express their concern about the accommodations and the residents, especially after the first, and currently the only, resident was caught stealing from a parked car outside a
“This resident’s behaviour is not typical of those who will be staying here. The men we are aiming to help come from different social situations,” explained Tyler Ladouceur, Autonhomme Coordinator, noting that the man had already been living by himself in Campbell’s Bay before he came to Autonhomme.
One of the main questions during the meeting was why the centre is
located in the middle of a town. “Shouldn’t it be placed in a secluded area where residents won’t have things (like drugs, alcohol, connections with bad people, etc…) readily available to them?…This is the wrong location for this centre,” declared one resident. Ladouceur explained it’s more cost-effective to
occupy the building they do since it’s shared with Bouffe Pontiac and other services, like the Carrefour Jeunesse, are in close proximity.
The Autonhomme staff claimed the facility has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs (although they stated there could be some leniency for certain residents), an 11pm curfew and daily schedule for residents, accompaniment for those deemed at risk, camera surveillance, and backgrounds checks for all residents.
“This will not become a crack house and we will not be housing declared sex offenders or criminals,” said Ladouceur. However, Michel Laporte, CISSSO Community Organizer, explained that criminal record checks are difficult to obtain given that it takes about a month to receive the results while the need for accommodation may be urgent.
Members of the municipal council expressed anger that they had not been consulted before the service was implemented. “Why wasn’t there a public consultation and why wasn’t council notified that your services were expanding to allow people to overnight here? You went through the back door,” declared a homeowner who lives next door to Autonhomme. According to Ladouceur, all the necessary procedures and requirements for implementing the new service were followed.
Other suggestions from the public included having staff wear clearly identifiable clothing, mandatory criminal record checks, doing a trial of one or two residents before adding more, implementing an earlier curfew that runs until a certain time in the morning, and not allowing residents off of Autonhomme’s grounds without accompaniment at all times.
Some people were unhappy with the results of the event. “Few questions were able to be answered and there were no straight answers. There was lots of
talking, but very few guarantees,” said one, noting another meeting is supposed to be held around the end of July to offer more information.
The funding for the temporary accommodations was provided for
2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Afterwards, if all conditions are met, the funding will be given on an annual basis.