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Whoa!

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There is a segment of the population that feels criminals, whether hardened or first-time offenders, should be cast into the deepest, darkest dungeon never to be seen or heard from again.

Fortunately, the majority of people are far more reasonable—and are willing to accept initiatives aimed at rehabilitating those who go astray, especially youths, so that they may one day become productive members of society again.

As such, Friday’s announcement by the province that it will fund construction of a 12-bed facility here dedicated to aboriginal youth aged 12-17 is a positive step. For starters, it will create construction jobs in the short-term, as well as permanent jobs for those who will staff it.

Most important, though, is that it will get these kids out of the Kenora jail—offering, according to Children and Youth Services minister Mary Anne Chambers, “opportunity for rehabilitation and a reduction in recidivism.”

Just one problem. Friday’s announcement was news to the town (with Mayor Roy Avis saying this morning that the first he heard of it was what he read in Monday’s Daily Bulletin). And you can bet it’s news to residents who live in the Eighth Street/Christie Avenue area, where the facility is slated to be built by early 2009.

Needless to say, they’re probably not too thrilled to know a detention centre is being put smack dab in their “backyard.”

At the very least, these residents deserve to hear just what has been earmarked for their neighbourhood, as well as given the opportunity to voice their objections or concerns, or perhaps even offer suggestions.

In short, a full public debate about this facility and its proposed location in a residential area must be completed first before it is allowed to proceed.

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