Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

EXPLAINING THE PROCEDURE – Delivering a report to city council Monday evening, Pat Ross, the city’s manager of land and building services, outlined the process for council members to decide on the conditional use application involving a proposed group home on Wann Road in Porter Creek.

Council hears details on proposed group home

Public concerns over the proposed location for a Yukon government group home will be heard in city council chambers next week.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 20, 2018

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.

Comments (8)

Up 5 Down 1

Jayne W on Feb 22, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Maybe YTG and COW should look at the great parcel of land in Cowley Creek that is now zoned for housing from the latest infill mess. A great spot for a group home, close to trails, out door activities and far enough away from the temptations that the City brings but close enough to get into town for appointments. Also down on the end of Salmon Trail there is an area with almost 5 spots for housing, another great spot for a group home.

Up 3 Down 2

Colette Acheson on Feb 22, 2018 at 10:42 am

In my experience with both the Yukon Association for Community Living, and the disability sector in other communities across Canada, we know that NMBY is not a new debate. Ultimately, whether it's youth, people of another culture, or people with disabilities, everyone is someone's child. Humans are wired to be fearful and protective of what they don't know. As happens in the disability sector in other communities, I would encourage both the Yukon government and the City, or possibly other groups like the Porter Creek Neighbourhood Association, to think about ways that the neighbourhood can have opportunities to get to know their new (proposed) neighbors in a positive light. Perhaps supporting outreach activities for the entire community; a summer potluck BBQ or block party, recruiting neighbors to volunteer as career mentors for the youth, or some other ways that the residents can build relationships and see the positives in each other.

Up 4 Down 0

Yukon Watchdog on Feb 21, 2018 at 4:32 pm

This place is for older youth. With a bar across the street and one a block away and three offsales locations within a block, yup, these older youth will definitely be set up well to learn the Yukon ways. Better start putting more money in the budget for drugs and alcohol addition right now. For me, it's about the location not being good for these kids. It's not about the poor poor neighbors like Jim Kenyon.

Up 4 Down 0

jake on Feb 21, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Someday also said they will be bringing up the hunting concession campground next door and ask whether the permits are in place and whether or not there was public consolation on that business

Up 2 Down 5

woodcutter on Feb 21, 2018 at 2:25 pm

These children are a product of our community. If it upsets you, so what, imagine what these children feel.
To live in a glass bubble must be nice, but for you're info, it's not in porter creek.
Cry me a river

Up 3 Down 3

Josey Wales on Feb 21, 2018 at 10:41 am

Soooooo....council hears do they, allegedly?
Funny as I got the impression based on their own ineptness, that they were deaf as it relates to citizens.
Yes, these concerns will be heard in our hall next week, but only by those talking and those who come to listen.
For many, many years our nobles have not been coming to listen, only to lord.
The evidence of that can been seen in every part of our composting community.
Put the babysitting facility in pooville, ya know all being inclusive ‘n all.

Up 4 Down 0

My Opinion on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:32 pm

What is our little town coming to? I hardly recognize it anymore.

Up 7 Down 2

jc on Feb 20, 2018 at 9:10 pm

Does public concerns really matter here? The government has already made up its mind to put the group home in this location. When the Liberals say, "So let it be written, so let it be done", it will be done.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.