Whitehorse Daily Star

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PROCESS QUESTIONED – Wann Road resident Mickey Kenyon speaks to members of city council Monday evening. It seems the Yukon government will only speak to area residents after its bid to create a group home next-door to her residence has been approved by the city, Kenyon said. Inset Pat Ross

Council advised to approve group home

22 Wann Rd. will be on its way to becoming a group home for up to 10 youth if city council approves a recommendation city staff put forward Monday evening.

By Stephanie Waddell on March 6, 2018

22 Wann Rd. will be on its way to becoming a group home for up to 10 youth if city council approves a recommendation city staff put forward Monday evening.

Pat Ross is the city’s manager of land and building services.

He brought forward the recommendation that council approve the Yukon government’s conditional use application to permit the group home to operate out of the property.

The government is looking to buy the large home – listed at $1.1 million – from the current owners with the city’s conditional use approval a condition of the sale.

Supportive housing – in this case as a home for older youth in government care transitioning to independent living – is permitted only as a conditional use for the Country Residential 2 (RC2)-zoned property.

A public hearing held last Monday saw some delegates express support for the conditional use.

Others voiced concerns over what they viewed as a lack of consultation by the Yukon government. They also cited issues over safety, the proximity to liquor sales, whether the water and sewer system can handle an influx of residents, possible noise issues and more.

At last night’s meeting, Mickey Kenyon, who with her husband, Jim, lives next-door to the property, addressed council, taking issue with the suggestion of opposition to the proposal.

She voiced her support for a letter sent to the city by Jeff Marynowski, the president of the Porter Creek Community Association.

Marynowski argued that what was deemed as opposition by city administration was actually concern over the Yukon government’s lack of consultation with residents.

It seems the territory will only be speaking to residents after the plans move forward, Kenyon said.

“This is our neighbourhood,” Kenyon said.

She pointed out that many people have lived there for many years – and are planning to be there for a lot more.

In the report to council, Ross went through the concerns one by one. In an initial summary of them, he stated:

“The public input included concerns regarding the possible behaviour of youth in the proposed residential facility.

“Family and Children’s Services (a Yukon government branch) is responsible for continued socialization and transition programming for the youth in their program.

“The applicant has indicated that the facility will have three full-time on-site staff available to address any behavioural issues that may arise and beyond this need, the RCMP are on call where necessary.”

Ross then went on to note the proposal meets all the standards required under city regulations along with pointing to the city’s Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw.

“The city’s Official Community Plan has an objective for ‘equitable housing,’ supporting the integration of government funded housing in existing neighbourhoods,” Ross said.

“The zoning bylaw likewise has included supportive housing in many residential zones recognizing that these uses are providing homes in neighbourhoods in order to have equitable access to services, amenities and green space.

“The recommended condition to limit the number of youth at the home reflects what was applied for in the conditional use application.”

Speaking to the issue of communication with the public, it was pointed out that Yukon government staff made note of letters sent to residents about the proposal.

The city followed its obligations in notifying residents and hosting an input session on the conditional use application.

It also addresses the possibility of crime, stating: “Youth are capable of committing crimes in any neighbourhood whether residing within a group home or not.

“Crimes are committed throughout the city. There is no reason to exclude the Porter Creek neighbourhood when considering the placement of a youth group home versus any other neighbourhood.”

As for liquor sales, it’s pointed out the residence would house youth who are 18 and under, and being a resident of a group home does nothing to alter their ability to access alcohol.

“The presence of on-site 24-hour supervision by facility staff who are trained to deal with and support youths of this age will act to curtail any possible illegal acquisition of liquor,” the report states.

It’s been confirmed by an environmental health officer with the Yukon government’s environmental health services branch that the existing septic field would be adequate for the proposed use, with 10 youth and three staff members.

Under questioning by Coun. Dan Boyd, Ross later told council the city could look at having a third party also assess the septic field.

Ross noted the matter was studied a number of years ago when four bedrooms were added for a bed and breakfast.

On the issue of noise, it was pointed out the city’s noise bylaw prohibits noise that unreasonably interferes with others.

Any issues or complaints would be dealt with through the city’s bylaw department or the RCMP, if the complaint is made after hours.

The proposal would also meet all requirements for off-street parking.

As well, it addresses concerns around the density of the neighbourhood, noting city policies promote “densification in existing residential neighbourhoods to enable a compact growth strategy and the efficient use of municipal infrastructure.”

Ross responded to one comment that the group home would constitute a non-residential use in a residential area.

He pointed out that the current zoning allows for supportive housing as a conditional use, and that the home would be a residence to the youth who live there.

“This residence will be the full-time home for these youths and is more appropriate and effective when placed in a residential neighbourhood rather than a commercial or industrial area,” Ross noted.

“Youth require access to amenities typically found in residential neighbourhoods, such as parks, schools and transit services, etc.

“The size of this home and property is significant and well-equipped to accommodate the 10 residents being proposed.”

Council discussed the issue following Ross’ presentation.

Boyd questioned whether the city could request more consultation by the Yukon government on the proposal.

However, as other council members commented, that could be viewed as interference by another government.

That’s not something the city would want from another government either, more than one councillor commented.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said while she sympathizes with nearby residents on their concerns over consultation, she doesn’t believe it’s realistic to ask the Yukon government for consultation.

The need for such a group home was also highlighted by multiple members of council.

Coun. Roslyn Woodcock noted her home in the southern downtown neighbourhood is within a couple of blocks of four supportive housing sites.

“And I do not see more crime in my neighbourhood, and I’ve lived there for 17 years, than any other neighbourhood in this community so those concerns are problematic for me because I don’t think they’re grounded in reality,” she said.

Coun. Betty Irwin was quick to state her agreement with Woodcock.

She argued it seems the benefits to the community are being lost to a “picky little discussion” over consultation.

Council will vote on the conditional use application next week.

Coun. Samson Hartland was absent from last night’s meeting.

Comments (10)

Up 0 Down 0

Hugh Mungus on Mar 12, 2018 at 3:15 pm

@ Sarah or should I call you Mickey?

'This is our neighborhood' means exactly that. No one else is welcome, especially troubled youth. As before, I challenge you to select a suitable neighbourhood with a residence that size.

Up 2 Down 1

Sarah on Mar 9, 2018 at 12:48 pm

I feel like all these comments that are attacking this lady are strictly political because her husband is an ex-MLA for someone's "wrong" team. Even the comment about entitlement is a jerk comment. "This is our neighborhood" can have different intonations, and different inflections. I can hardly believe she said "This is OUR neighborhood", as the jerk commenter would have you believe. I would be more inclined to believe she said "This is our NEIGHBORHOOD", which would insinuate that they deserve to be consulted. And all the people crying foul over people being worried about their property (crime and value) will understand better after you live next to a group home for 20 years. I did. It isn't pretty. These people deserve a voice, and NO neighborhood deserves a group home, speaking from experience.

Up 4 Down 3

Hugh Mungus on Mar 7, 2018 at 9:09 am

She pointed out that many people have lived there for many years – and are planning to be there for a lot more.
“This is our neighbourhood,” Kenyon said.

Talk about entitlement.

These youth need programming, structure and support. She was quite happy to accept a pay cheque from Yukon taxpayers every two weeks for her role in in Education working with kids with special needs yet she doesn't want these same kids in her neighbourhood.

Mickey, what neighbourhood would be acceptable for this group home, just curious

Up 4 Down 2

Josey Wales on Mar 7, 2018 at 8:33 am

Ummm...not in my backyard, I do not wonder why crime is so rampant at all. Heaps of folks virtue signaling how awesome they are because they project an optic of concern they may feel they have. Heaps more of the same, enabling recidivism by dropping the bar on the ground...bigotry of lower expectations really. Then of course the very liberal tactic of engineering out of society the traditional family, the very much liberal hug a thug policies been running uninterrupted since the early seventies, folks not having much faith in our police, even more having even less faith in our defunct and racist/sexist coddling court system, decades of the young offender act ...yup more liberal policies...brats being brats often very dangerous brats too. So yes there is a clear correlation between stupidity and crime.
Speaking of stupidity, treating society as a shelter for life forms not really part of ones interest in being “gasp” TRIGGER WARNING...responsible for?
Seems many folks up here keep calving them out, as they were indoctrinated very well to deflect all of their personal responsibilities to others. CBC gets over 1.5 billion dollars annually ensuring the absolute lunacy will continue, the indoctrination that is.
You may not like my view of our dysfunctional and socially engineered society, about that I care very very little.

Up 4 Down 2

My Opinion on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:48 pm

I couldn't afford a house like that in three life times. Nothing to good for these wards of the State. Disgraceful, what am I or have I been working for.

Up 3 Down 1

jc on Mar 6, 2018 at 9:28 pm

"Not In My Neighborhood". I worked in Group homes so I can't agree with you. Enough said, or this comment won't be allowed.

Up 4 Down 1

Politico on Mar 6, 2018 at 7:15 pm

@JatneW Your compassion for disadvantaged kids is amazing. PC is a great place for the home. As a resident who lives close by I have no problems with the home at all. Enjoy

Up 5 Down 1

NIMBY Kenyons on Mar 6, 2018 at 4:39 pm

I encourage the retired MLA and his wife who are riding the pension/coattails of tax payers to engage the youth and provide a “leg up”. Maybe get to know their neighbor, offer some help, advice and compassion. Sadly, these youth did not choose the “hand” they have been dealt. Community can either engage, encourage and help support these youth OR they can continue to judge, ostracize and make them feel like the problem. Guaranteed they will continue to be a problem. I suggest engage these youth and support.

Up 4 Down 3

Not in my neighborhood on Mar 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm

And we are wondering why there is crime in Whitehorse? It sounds like Yukon people aren't the caring individuals they once were. A neighborhood like Porter Creek would be excellent for children/youth in care. Just because a youth lives in a group home, it doesn't mean they are criminals. It means they need care and help because they were put in care for a reason. Instead of trying to block this facility, why not try to make it a positive environment for the youth in the community. Help them to make good choices and grow into responsible, caring adults? Get back to how the Yukon used to be..... happy, caring and unique people...

Up 1 Down 6

Jayne W on Mar 6, 2018 at 3:02 pm

YTG owns land in Cowley Creek, it is now zoned for housing by the COW, instead of selling the land to build new homes .....build a new group home there. It would be a win, win for everyone. Use the horrible band aid infill decisions made a few months ago a positive and turn that area into the group home. Cowley is getting a nice new park in the future, trails close by. They could even have horses or a small dog team for great therapy. And far enough out of town to keep the clients out of trouble.

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