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Doug Ford draws criticism for saying group home 'ruined community'

TORONTO - The brother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is being chastised on social media for reportedly saying a residential home for developmentally disabled youth has "ruined" a neighbourhood.

Coun. Doug Ford's comments have triggered an angry response on Twitter, with people including former Ontario premier Bob Rae blasting the Toronto city councillor.

The community newspaper the Etobicoke Guardian reported on Friday that Ford's office organized a public meeting on Thursday concerning the facility run by the Griffin Centre, described as a non-profit multi-service mental health agency.

The paper reported that some residents in Toronto's west-end complained about the facility's presence in their midst and that they weren't given sufficient advance warning.

Ford, whose ward is in the west-end, is quoted as saying it was unacceptable to have emergency vehicles parked on the street outside the home and that the home should be relocated.

"You’ve ruined the community,” Ford is quoted by the Guardian as telling the facility's staff.

“You can’t destroy a community like this. People have worked 30 years for their home...My heart goes out to kids with autism. But no one told me they’d be leaving the house. If it comes down to it, I’ll buy the house myself and resell it.”

The published comments attributed to Ford have drawn condemnation on Twitter, including Rae who weighed in with a tweet on Saturday.

"This is the opposite of leadership on mental health. Doug Ford should be ashamed of himself - hurting not helping," Rae tweeted.

Doug Ford did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.

Deanna Dannell, a spokeswoman for the Griffin Centre said she was disappointed with Ford's comments but is heartened by the social response to his remarks.

"The positive support from the community has been overwhelming, she said in an email late Saturday.

"Not only have they been posting their support, they have been sending us letters of support and making generous donations."

The Griffin Centre had several contacts with Ford prior the residence opening and was upfront about who would be housed there and what services would be provided, Dannell said.

She added Ford hasn't been in touch since the meeting but has committed to having a follow up meeting in a week or so.

Ford has been an outspoken defender of his brother during the past year when the mayor made international headlines for his admissions of cocaine use, heavy drinking and repeated verbal gaffes.

Rob Ford announced late last month that he would seek professional treatment after another round of media stories about his after-hours activities.

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