Last Summer, Councillor Nicole Beatty moved a motion that was passed by Council to ask the Province for a report on what was happening at Brookside Youth centre at 390 King Street East. She was not the only one concerned. Many people have asked MPP David Piccini the same question since it was no secret that occupancy was dropping. As Mayor Henderson said at today’s Zoom announcement, in 2014 the Auditor General asked about the low occupancy and in fact occupancy at the facility has dropped 81% since 2004/05. So now the Province has acted and today the facility was closed and the youth were re-assigned. All staff will be able to continue working for the Provincial Government although not at Brookside.
The facility has been operating since 1968, has 16 beds, 14 buildings and occupies approximately 70 acres. For several years now, there were 9 to 15 youth in custody on any given day but when it closed, there were five youth. Brookside employs 100 staff and the 2019-20 fiscal year budget for Brookside Youth Centre is $10 million.
MPP Piccini made it clear that the reduced number of inmates is because of Province wide and Cobourg community initiatives to focus on preventative measures – as Piccini said: “We are now supporting youth at a younger age”. “And this is a good thing”.
But the question remains: what should the land and/or buildings be used for? MPP Piccini has a form on his web site asking for input on the future of this site.
The property belongs to the Province but could be sold to the Town. Mayor Henderson would not commit since it’s not clear if there are environmental or other issues although he said the Town is always searching for land. It’s likely that the Town would also survey residents for their thoughts and of course you can always make comments on this post as usual.