Plan for New Glasgow seniors' centre scuttled for 2nd time after outcry

New Glasgow residents voiced concerns about the town's latest proposed location for a long-term care home and the property sale fell through.   (Eric Wooliscroft/CBC - image credit)
New Glasgow residents voiced concerns about the town's latest proposed location for a long-term care home and the property sale fell through. (Eric Wooliscroft/CBC - image credit)

People in New Glasgow have, once again, rejected the town's proposal for a new 144-bed long-term care centre.

The town has been trying to find a suitable site for a centre to replace Glen Haven Manor, which is municipally owned. But so far, it's had no luck persuading residents that a new seniors' home would be good for their community.

"In all honesty, I'm a little discouraged," said Mayor Nancy Dicks.

Her office notified the public on Monday that it was cancelling a June 17 public hearing for an application to rezone a parcel of land on Chestnut Street to accommodate the proposed facility.

The owners of the land, Stone's Prestige Homes of New Glasgow, rescinded their offer to sell it for the purposes of building a new centre.

"After numerous family discussions and the vast amount of residents' concerns and opposition, we have decided to back out of the land agreement," they said in a Facebook post that also referenced receiving "personal threats and attacks."

The company declined to comment to CBC News.

Dicks said she believes there was a campaign to prevent the sale.

"My understanding is there was some pressure put on the owners to not make this land available," the mayor said.

The decision to cancel the rezoning application meeting means the town is now back to the drawing board, again.

In January, it abandoned a plan to put the centre on Brother Street in a historically black community.

At the time, people in the area demanded an apology from the town for even considering it.

Staff at Glen Haven Manor in New Glasgow drugged patients inappropriately, according to reports filed by the Health Department.
Staff at Glen Haven Manor in New Glasgow drugged patients inappropriately, according to reports filed by the Health Department.

The town is looking to replace Glen Haven Manor, which is municipally owned. (Google Street View)

After two failed attempts to confirm a site, Dicks said the town has to come up with some way to convince residents that building a long-term care home in a residential setting, away from the local hospital, would be good for the people living in long-term care — and their neighbours.

"Our community is just not ready to hear that," she said.

"We've tried to consult at various steps of this and it really hasn't worked. I don't know if people are really open to hearing information, studies, all of those things."

Patricia Seyffert, who lives about a half kilometre away from the most recently proposed site on Chestnut Street, said she and her neighbours don't want added traffic.

"It was a concern with the high level of children in the neighborhood, the lack of sidewalks, lack of lighting, and then you increase the level of traffic in the neighbourhood and that became quite a concern for safety," said Seyffert.

Furthermore, she said she was unable to get assurances from the town that some of the unused, rezoned land not occupied by a long-term care home wouldn't eventually be used for something else.

"Whether it be youth offender housing or housing of homeless people — they refused to basically tell us anything, any of their plans in the future."

Seyffert said her main concern was that the proposed new facility would have only 144 beds. Glen Haven Manor has 200.

'Part of community'

Paula Langille, executive director of infrastructure at the Department of Seniors and Long-Term Care, said the province is adding capacity throughout the province with more beds planned for Valley View Villa in nearby Stellarton and a proposed new care home in Westville — all funded and licensed by the province.

Langille said building long-term care homes in residential areas is a condition of any future facility's license.

"We see long-term care facilities as part of the community," said Langille.

"So we want them engaged in the community so they can still see life is still going on. They're still attached to the community. We want to make sure that they stay integrated in enough places that they've called their home most of their entire lives."

Langille said her department will work with New Glasgow as it tries for a third time to find an appropriate site.

Glen Haven Manor will remain open until its replacement is ready for tenants.

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