The only building that has been identified as a potential new site for the Ottawa parole office was open for discussion at a public consultation Wednesday evening.
Correctional Service Canada is considering 116 Albert St. at Metcalfe for the relocation of the office from its current controversial address across from Elgin Street Public School, when its lease expires next September.
A second potential property, at 500 Terminal Ave., was withdrawn from further consideration Wednesday.
Although only six community members showed up amid a transit strike, more than 200 feedback submissions have been received by Correctional Services since launching an online consultation earlier this month. It will run until Dec. 23.
John Higgins, co-chair of the Elgin Street Public School Parent's Council and 10-year area resident, was at the “town hall” meeting at a downtown hotel.
“I want to be able to leave my children’s bikes on the front porch at night, without having to lock them up – but I can’t,” he said to the room of about 30 people, mostly media and parole office staff.
The Ottawa office supervises 200 offenders, about 10 of which are women.
Ana Paquete, area director for Corrections Canada, explained in a presentation that preceded a question-and-answer period that most offenders live in half-way houses. Out of a total of 82 beds in Ottawa, 54 are located in Centretown, which are operated by such organizations as the John Howard Elizabeth Fry societies.
Another presenter, Morris Zbar, national transformation team lead, said Correctional Service Canada is very cognisant of the community component.
“The essence of what we do is based on what makes sense from a public safety point of view,” he said.
“We’re here because we need to make sure that folks to have an opportunity to react to what we are planning, and to provide meaningful input.”
The process started several months ago to find a suitable location that measures up to zoning criteria – which includes access to community support and transit – but, Paquete says efforts, have been delayed by the restrictions placed on public service activities during election campaigns.
The current site of the office on Gilmour at Elgin has been a controversial one sice it opened several years ago, leading to a vocal by community leaders and activists and local politicians to move it away from Elgin Street school as well as from Minto Park, location of a monument to women who were murdered as result of domestic violence.
To participate in the online consultation on the relocation of the Ottawa Parole Office, visit www.csc-scc.gc.ca/consultation.