A pair of township councillors are concerned about the “negative press” surrounding Allan’s Place.
As the public portion of the committee of the whole meeting got underway Monday (May 10) Regional Councillor Ted Smith noted that members of council had just concluded a “robust” discussion about the Cannington facility during an in-camera session.
Related to that conversation, which centred on a confidential report from Durham Region Non-Profit Housing Corporation (DRNPHC), Coun. Smith said he was worried that the relationship between the municipality and the agency had been “soured” by recent news reports.
“There’s been a lot of negative press about it (Allan’s Place) and a lot of negative press about DRNPHC,” he said.
That includes a story about a petition launched by residents concerned for their safety and a subsequent social media post from Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer (which was published by The Brock Voice).
While he acknowledged that there have been issues at the facility, Coun. Smith noted that Allan’s Place opened under “extremely difficult circumstances” at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged his colleagues to be “more careful and more respectful” with their comments, noting that some DRNPHC staff feel “less than respected” by some of the comments.
“Staff have done their best,” Coun. Smith said.
Ward 5 Councillor Lynn Campbell agreed, directly calling for council to “repair” its relationship with DRNPHC.
“The problem with the recent publicity is that it’s one-sided,” Coun. Campbell said, noting that the agency has taken a number of positive steps to address the concerns of residents.
Since the issues at Allen’s Place first came to light more than a year ago, DRNPHC has not responded to numerous requests for comment from The Brock Voice, including our most recent attempt following Monday’s meeting.
In response, Coun. Schummer said that the criticism levelled towards DRHNPC staff are valid given the “serious issues” at the facility.
“We are not talking about minor little problems that can happen in tenancies…We are talking safety. We are talking about security of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said.
While Mayor John Grant tried to play peacemaker to close the debate, noting that the municipality and DRHNPC are on the “same team,” it continued following the meeting as Coun. Schummer and Coun. Campbell sparred on social media (see photos below).
At one point, Coun. Campbell seems to suggest that issues at the facility have been exaggerated.