Whitehorse Daily Star

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Geraldine Van Bibber

Residents ‘very concerned’ about group home

Yukoners will be given the opportunity to weigh in on the possibility of a Yukon government group home in Porter Creek – at the municipal level.

By Taylor Blewett on February 5, 2018

Yukoners will be given the opportunity to weigh in on the possibility of a Yukon government group home in Porter Creek – at the municipal level.

Pat Living is a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services.

She confirmed by email last week that the government is “exploring the purchase” of a building on Wann Road in Porter Creek “for use as a group home.”

As for consultation on the residence, “we are following the process that the city has set out around zoning, etc. and will be contacting area residents to advise of our plans,” Living wrote.

She was not available to the Star to answer further questions on the issue.

Geraldine Van Bibber, the Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek North, said last Thursday that major decisions regarding the group home have been made already – without input from the residents who would ultimately have to live with this change to their neighbourhood.

“We’ve spoken to a real estate person who says there’s a pending sale,” Van Bibber told the Star. “This is not how consultation works, in our books.”

The Yukon Party’s books dictate that decisions are made with constituents, according to Van Bibber.

Marc Perreault, a RE/MAX realtor, confirmed that there is a conditional agreement for sale of the property in question, at 22 Wann Rd. He could not speak to the conditions of the sale.

The property was listed at $1.1 million, Perreault said, without a second parcel of land that is now included in the conditional agreement for sale.

“I’ve heard from several constituents via email and phone call, and they’re very concerned about the changes in their riding, or neighbourhood,” Van Bibber said.

“To be clear, the Yukon Party is not against group homes, the development of group homes. It’s just that there should be a consultation that happens with people in that particular area.”

Van Bibber wrote an email to Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost on Jan. 26.

In it, she informed Frost that she had been contacted by Porter Creek residents who had learned of the government’s plans to renovate and convert the Wann Road building into a group home.

“Aside from the total lack of consultation from the government, a number of concerns with respect to this project have been raised, including and not limited to the recent increase in violent and property crime in the area and proximity to establishments where liquor is sold,” she wrote to Frost.

Van Bibber asked the minister to make herself available to area residents to inform them about the government’s plan, answer questions, and allow for consultation.

The minister was not available for an interview for this story.

Jeffrey Marynowski is the president of the Porter Creek Community Association. He told the Star last week that he had “not a clue” of the government’s plans for the Wann Road property until it was reported by the CBC last Tuesday,

He said the development of a group home is “without a doubt” the kind of change the government should consult a neighbourhood about.

“Especially with the nature of group homes ... you buy into a neighbourhood, you become part of a neighbourhood ... for government to come in and change it without consulting is just wrong,” Marynowski said.

He said that as community association president, he receives notification of Yukon government and city plans for the area all the time.

“So it’s kind of funny that I got missed on this one here.”

However, city process dictates that Porter Creekers will be informed of the group home plan in the near future – and were always going to be.

The city received a development permit application for conditional use of the property at 22 Wann Rd. last December, Pat Ross, the manager of land and building services, told the Star last week.

The building currently houses a bed and breakfast, near the strip mall where Coyote Video, Whiskey Jacks Pub and Grill and other businesses are located.

The conditional use being applied for by Health and Social Services is supportive housing, Ross explained.

He couldn’t provide specific detail about the government’s plans for the building.

However, supportive housing is defined under zoning bylaw as “the use of a building with dwelling units to provide services and supports onsite, in a residential setting, for nine or more individuals that require supervision or assistance to sustain the activities of daily living due to physical, mental, social, or behavioural challenges.”

While a conditional use application is similar to a zoning amendment application in the process it follows, the former does not involve “introducing something foreign to the zone,” Ross emphasized.

He explained that the conditional use was always contemplated in the zoning; it just requires some additional consideration by council.

“In the scheme of things, this is a residence that’s being proposed. It’ll just have your 24-7 onsite supervision component by staff of Health and Social Services that are embedded in the home to assist these tenants, because they need that support,” Ross said.

City council will look at how this conditional use might impact the area in a variety of ways.

It reserves the ability to restrict, qualify or outright veto the conditional use application.

There will also be an opportunity for public input.

In the coming weeks, Ross said, residents living in the vicinity of the group home can expect to receive a mailed notice. It will explain an overview of the government’s plans for 22 Wann Rd. and invite public comment.

The notice also has to be published in at least one Whitehorse newspaper.

“There’s an opportunity to come in front of council and voice your concerns, and you can mail in things, and that information all gets considered by council through the process,” Ross said.

Comments (26)

Up 0 Down 0

If any makes this a party issue is disrespectful on Feb 10, 2018 at 11:20 am

of people in need. I lost my parents at the age of two and no what it's like.
Cut the BS. Only speak if you can make a positive constructive statement. Wilf Carter

Up 0 Down 0

Hugh Mungus on Feb 9, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Is there any job Wilf Carter hasn't done?

Up 4 Down 0

Common sense on Feb 8, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Why does the government continue to house young people, sometimes babies and toddlers, in group home settings with "staff" who punch a clock and do their very best to keep the kids from running away? The staff do their best to simulate a normal home environment, but it is anything but and the kids are simply contained with good food, clothing and some pocket money, and a ride to school when needed.
How about this idea...purchase some average on the brink of city limits or just a little past (there is plenty of land here we know that), build a safe comfortable home with plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms and a large kitchen big enough for a very large family. Build green houses, plant a garden of vegetables and keep chickens. Teach the kids from a very young age how to split wood, grow and raise their own food, can veggies, work with tools and learn carpentry skills. Why not teach them to raise pets with compassion and learn to patch and sew. There is plenty of time to do all these things but instead the kids sit in front of the TV, computer or go awol and look for excitement because they are bored. They have rare opportunities in a year to do culture camps or go camping, why not raise them in such an environment so they learn to be self sufficient and gain confidence and independence? Why has this never been explored?
The biggest challenge facing kids in care is the inevitable reality that they will be on their own and what they need more than iPhones and video games is the ability to be resourceful and take care of themselves. Here's another idea! The FNs have land tied up that is on their traditional territory. Why doesn't one of the FN's lease some of that land to YG instead of YG buying prime real estate, and then they can build a home with what I have described and it can be much more than an expensive holding place for youth, but a place of security, learning and a meaningful experience in the face of their most often tragic circumstances.
No group home will ever simulate a "home" experience for the youth who are parentless, but with the millions of dollars going into the multiple group home environments, there is a much better solution and YG just needs to use some common sense and explore options.

Up 1 Down 1

Bill on Feb 8, 2018 at 3:04 pm

If one does not like what the govt is doing take them to court for a stop work order until this problem is worked out.

Up 1 Down 3

Thomas Brewer on Feb 8, 2018 at 9:23 am

The YP had their real estate hi-jinks, the golf course and the land purchased for the new SallyAnn from an old school YP supporter... why has nobody investigated who the seller is and if they have any ties to the Liberal Party? There's likely gold there.

Up 4 Down 1

north_of_60 on Feb 7, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Downtown resident is correct. The best place for another group home is south of Main St and west of 4th Ave. Remediation of an old diesel fuel spill under the WP tank location is no big deal, just do it.
The poorly thought out plan for Wann Rd strongly smells like Liberal cronyism, and their failure to contact the local community association beforehand stinks of Liberal elitism.

Up 7 Down 1

Downtown resident on Feb 7, 2018 at 11:07 am

So there is this huge chunk of land downtown by the clay cliffs that the government keeps avoiding because it needs to be remediated. But yet will spend $1 million on an executive home in Porter Creek? Remediate the property downtown and place the group home down by the other beautiful group home built a couple years ago. The homes there are already used to dealing with petty crime and the kids might have something to do other than cause mischief in a largely affluent residential area.

Up 6 Down 2

Political planning for this facility is wrong. on Feb 7, 2018 at 7:58 am

These young people have had a rough start in life and more likely home environment or they might have some type of disability, which they can't control themselves if they don't take their med's.
Up behind the college might be a location and there could be programs ran for these young people to keep them busy doing something.
In Europe they build group homes with program support so they can do something of value to themselves.
As someone who worked land development and planning in the Yukon on subdivisions, this is not a good location for this type of project.
Some of these of projects are built out of town like where the cadet camp is located.
The problem with some of our politicians is they don't listen, make decisions with out thinking through the out come and only hear what they are thinking, not what people are saying.
Wilf Carter

Up 4 Down 2

Josey Wales on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:58 pm

Ummm....non PC resident, I read the same post very easy.
Perhaps if you are experiencing difficulties doing so, take off your victim glasses or set your virtue signalling app to real speak?
Oh yeah, please do not think for a second our political overlords and their minions in the deep state are remotely concerned about public safety.
They are not, same team brought us the Y.O.A., made NCR a everyday acronym, honed the hug a thug philosophy to a razors edge...cuts daily.
Pays out convicted terrorists, encourages jihad joes to return home to keep their Canuck benefits....blah blah blaaaaah.

Yes they will certainly be logical and can be trusted to place...
A mere group home, can they not?
No...no they cannot as the red team and their approach to crime is the biggest embarrassment to all of Person kind.
PooVille not have any houses for a million dollars for sale? In the name of inclusion and diversity Pooville is a better engineered choice.
Poor ol PC as in Porter Creek has had enough engineered stupidity

Up 2 Down 1

at non-PC Resident on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

..where in PC Residents post did you find the racial stereotype and inaccurate data? Genuine question since I can't find it and l looked twice.
I actually thought it was a very well written comment.

Up 2 Down 3

Joe on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:18 pm

Funny none of the people I talk to have any issues with this. Seems to be coming from the neighbour who seems to think zoning doesn't apply to him. Nimby.

Up 3 Down 2

Another PC Resident on Feb 6, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Hey Concerned PC resident - it is obvious your comment has just as many political undertones as you assert. The fact remains - this is a bad place for a group home. And the Liberal government did a sh***y job consulting neighbors, one of which happens to be an ex-YP minister. If I had a property adjecent to a lot that the government decided to fill with troubled youth, I would be saying something too. And I damn well hope my MLA would help residents stand up against the location.
Nice try - there has been no "misinformation" spread. Only truths about the shady way politicians are sneaking in their decisions, trying to fly under the radar and line the pockets of their realtor friends, only to get caught and get a well-deserved a**-whooping by neighbors. Nice try.

Up 2 Down 1

PC Resident on Feb 6, 2018 at 1:48 pm

@ Non PC Resident
"Racist Stereotypes" Where in my entire post do I mention anything about race? Or is it your personal agenda to create a race issue where there is none?

Stereotypes? It's not a stereotype to say that teenagers are more prone to crime than any other age class.. it's fact. If it's fact, it's not a stereotype....
"Inaccurate data" Enlighten all the readers.. what data was inaccurate? Proximity to bars/off sales? the number of murders? How much a Director salary is?
You're lack of ability to create or present any decent argument or response may suggest it is you who should be concerned about their day jobs.

Up 2 Down 10

Non PC Resident on Feb 6, 2018 at 6:14 am

PC Resident, your comment is so full of racist stereotypes and inaccurate data that it makes it difficult to read. Whatever your day job is, I suggest you don’t quit.

Up 8 Down 1

jc on Feb 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Typical of the Liberals - do the job in secret then inform the people later when its too late to go back.

Up 9 Down 1

ValleyView Resident on Feb 5, 2018 at 8:40 pm

There’s a big house for sale in ValleyView and it is very close to the games centre and away from bars and off sales. This would be a great location.

Up 7 Down 1

BnR on Feb 5, 2018 at 8:32 pm

PC res, no need to apologize for coming across as NIMBY.
This was a stupid idea. Who (well, maybe an Ndipper) in their right mind would want a group home right next door, where there was previously a higher end home? What's the matter with being concerned about your proper value? Anyone out there who thinks this is a good idea, maybe you could welcome them as your neighbour?
Geez, maybe put them next door to the minister? Actually, the ministers house is for sale, group home anyone?

Up 8 Down 1

Asif on Feb 5, 2018 at 6:56 pm

I think the teenagers need a safe environment not moved into the hood of Whitehorse where there are drug related murders.

Up 3 Down 10

Me on Feb 5, 2018 at 6:08 pm

Marginalized youth placed in middle class environments can have very positive outcomes. I hope the powers don’t back away because of the noise.

Up 3 Down 12

Me on Feb 5, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Elitism at its finest, full of pathetic micro-aggressions

Up 4 Down 11

Concerned PC resident on Feb 5, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Sad to see comments to kids who already have a difficult life to no fault of their own " we don't want you around" . Please use your real names. .ex Yukon Party minister of housing publicly voicing not in my back yard, opposition MLA Yukon Party taking a political stance. Shame on you. Check the zoning, check the established process and stop spreading self serving misinformation.

Up 9 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:07 pm

To be fair, group homes are needed, especially considering the courts don't like to use the Corrections Centre or the Young Offenders Facility for these waifs. I am keen to know however if this project might be called a 'Housing First' initiative at some point down the trail? I ask because it helps identify the treatment protocols for the clientele who may make their residence there.

Up 8 Down 1

Kracka on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm

So....there is a link between group homes and theft! In my opinion group homes are a breeding ground for criminals. They have group homes with 12-17 year olds, all committing crime, it really needs some attention. Group homes should be out on the mayo road, lake leberge, Mendenhall...you get the drift. Too many kids are out all night, I suspect they are not playing tiddly winks.

Up 8 Down 1

happy nimby ('cause it ain't in my yard for a change) on Feb 5, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Since when do you get approval for 'Nine or more individuals'? Shouldn't the approval be for a maximum number? Are they allowed 504 people, just so long as it's more than nine? "for nine or more individuals that require supervision or assistance to sustain the activities of daily living due to physical, mental, social, or behavioural challenges.”

Next up, I owned a property downtown from a 'group home' behind Lambert Street. Those teenagers were regularly walking out of there in the middle of the night and vandalizing properties, including mine. The staff had zero control and seemed to believe it was not their job to interfere with the night wanderings of the teens in their care. I believe it has improved since that old place was torn down and replaced with a new building. I don't know what changed, locked doors? But it seems like a zoo more than a home. I realize these are teenagers coming from difficult situations and that it is 'not their fault' that they destroy trees and spray paint homes and buildings etc. but don't kid yourself that there won't be problems. There very well may be.

On the other hand, there was a group home in Takhini that you might not have known was there other than the kids climbing out the windows and hanging out on the roof of the entry, or someone knowing the juvenile crime record of one of the kids walking down the street and making a stink about it.

I don't know the details of who will be in this group home (the reasons they are in there and their 'needs'), how it will be run (locked doors or open), how many there will actually be, how the staff will handle things, but most certainly the community should at least be told what is going on. All the best to all involved. At least let's hope for a very good outcome.

Up 9 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Feb 5, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Come on Sandy and crew, you campaigned on the "Be Heard" thing so make sure you live up to that promise. Hint - maybe get rid of a few spokes-people and hire a few listening-people.

Up 7 Down 1

PC Resident on Feb 5, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Firstly, I recognize the nimbi'ism of my comments, but hope people will see past that and realize there is more depth there.
This site is a terrible choice for a group home. The north end of PC already has a mixed strata of condensed low, medium and high income housing. It is too densified as it is. The rezoning is for 9 or more individuals? How many teens do they plan on jamming into this home in order to further densify this area. 9 or more can mean 12, or 20!
Next, this location is across the street from a BAR and 2 OFFSALES.. and around the corner from a SECOND BAR and THIRD OFFSALES. Those aren't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking safe and low risk housing for high risk youth. Not to add in the ONLY 24 hour gas station, a hub for late night activity.
Next, crime... I am not saying teenagers are the only ones responsible for crime, but they are more prone to it.. then add in high risk teens who have very limited supervision.. Why would you put them in this location? What chance are you giving them for a clean and sober lifestyle.. which brings up the next issue.
Access to facilities. PC is not close to the games centre, any of the gyms, after school programs. It has 1 high school. ....20 teens with nothing to do on a friday night, and no wheels to take them there...What are these teens going to do on evenings and weekends? Wander around the neighborhood?
Finally, to all the responders who are going to say "these teens need somewhere to go, where do you suggest" Well my answer is maybe ask that of the Director making $130k a year. Its their job to find a suitable location, and if this is the best they can come up with these teens are in worse hands than I thought.

Also, when did YG get into the private real estate business? Wouldn't we all like to sell homes to the deep pockets of YG. Shame on those who tried to slip this under the radar..

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