Public concerns over the proposed location for a Yukon government group home will be heard in city council chambers next week.
As outlined to council last night, a public input session on the conditional use application put forward by the Yukon government for 22 Wann Rd. is set for next Monday’s council meeting.
The territory is working to buy the single-detached home as a group home. It has been listed at a price of $1.1 million.
Under the city’s zoning bylaw, a group home would be classified as supportive housing, and thus require a conditional use approval by the city.
The home could have up to 10 residents along with up to three Yukon government staff working there at a time.
There would always be the minimum of two staff working there.
The proposal for a group home has already been met with contention from some area residents who argue it’s the wrong place for a group home for older youth who would be transitioning to independent living.
They have pointed to a number of bars and offsales liquor locations nearby and have argued there are drug problems and drug-related crimes in the
area. A man was fatally shot nearby in the fall of 2017.
They have also called out the Yukon government for what they argue is a lack of consultation on the plans.
In a report to council last night, Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, outlined the process for council to decide on the conditional use application.
After next week’s public input session, a report will be drafted and presented to council on March 5 with a vote set for its March 12 meeting.
Monday night’s report on the conditional use application highlighted a section of the city’s Official Community Plan that points to equitable housing in the city.
“This section notes that social housing should be integrated seamlessly into the community to provide an equitable access to services, amenities and green space,” it’s noted.
“This allows citizens to age in place and become part of the community, providing opportunity and a positive environment for all residents, regardless of age, sex, race, or income level.
“Policy 20.2.1 supports group homes, social, seniors, or assisted living housing being permitted in any residential designation, subject to zoning regulations.”
The report then specifies zoning issues council might consider in looking at the conditional use application.
The building would be in character with the neighbourhood; ample parking would be available; and the main difference between these plans and the typical residential use for the site would be with the presence of staff.
That, however, is not expected to have a major impact on the neighbourhood.
It also goes on to speak to the need for the use as a group home, noting that “internal studies conducted by H&SS (Health and Social Services) has determined that there is a gap in transitional support services for older adolescents in Yukon and YG’s current facilities cannot meet the needs for this group.
“YG states that the target demographic for this new service is older youth who are in some stage of transitional planning in their lives.
“The proposed facility at 22 Wann Road would allow YG to enhance independent living skills training and support options.
“Semi-independent living units will allow staff to support and assist youth transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood in a safe, structured environment that promotes autonomy and independence to develop knowledge, decision-making ability and other skills necessary for healthy community living.”
A letter from territorial government officials highlighted the service gap and the importance of such a facility.
“Similar to all Yukon group homes, this facility will offer the community a chance to support youth who require specialized services in a non-institutional environment that does not promote stigma,” the letter says.
“Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, all Yukon children have the right to special care and help when they cannot live with their parents,” the government stated.
“As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. We are hopeful that through innovation and partnership with community members, we will be one of the first jurisdictions to eliminate homelessness in our territory.”
Answering questions from council members, Ross confirmed that the current owners of the property are permitting the Yukon government to act as their agents in applying for the conditional use as part of a sales agreement to purchase the property.
He also emphasized that the conditional use consideration allows council to assess the impact of the property use – in this case, a group home for older youth – on the neighbourhood.
Residents can bring forward their thoughts on the proposal next week during the public input session at next Monday’s council meeting, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.
Coun. Betty Irwin was absent from last night’s meeting.