A new respite and support centre to help families coping with children who have disabilities is in the works for Pierrefonds.
The Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough recently approved a rezoning request by the Angelman Syndrome Foundation of Quebec so it could set up a centre in a commercial building that once housed a pool supply store on Gouin Blvd. just west of St. Jean Blvd.
The zoning amendment allows for a self-help and community resource centre to operate at the site. The existing building is expected to be renovated to house a daycare, an activity room and administration offices, as well as specialized services and care, though a construction permit hasn’t been issued yet, borough spokeswoman Johanne Palladini said.
“We are awaiting their request for a construction permit,” she added.
The Montreal-based foundation offers support for families dealing with Angelman syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. The condition features severe developmental delays, speech impairment, hyperactivity, jerky movements, small head size and recurrent seizures.
While some features of the syndrome temper in adulthood, those affected continue to have intellectual disability, severe speech impairment and seizures throughout their lives.
The foundation purchased the property on Gouin Blvd. for about $2 million and is excepted to spend another $500,000 renovating the interior, said Paolo DiVito, a Pierrefonds resident and down-town hotelier who founded the foundation.
The zoning request change for the site was a two-year process, DiVito said, adding renovations won’t begin for at least a year.
“As long as you have the people and the power, you can do it. It’s a question of time,” he said of the foundation’s project.
The objective is to open a centre that will offer support for disabled children and adults, whether they are diagnosed with Angelman syndrome or some other disorder, DiVito said, adding plans have yet to be finalized.
“It all depends on the money and funding we get,” he added. “The whole operation depends on that. The idea is to start off with weekend services to give families a break and then try and open on a daily basis with workshops for adults and stuff like that.”
The foundation, which doesn’t receive any government subsidies or grants, does its own fundraising and is currently seeking private sponsors to help establish about six respite residential units at its proposed centre on Gouin Blvd.
“We’re professional beggars,” DiVito said of the foundation’s reliance on private donations.
A golf tournament fundraiser to benefit the foundation was held at the St-Raphaël Golf Club in Île-Bizard last Friday.