A request by the Weyburn Group Homes Society for the Saskatchewan Housing Authority to build a personal care home in the Creeks residential area was denied by city council by a 4-1 vote on Monday evening.
The proposal was to build and develop the care home for four residents at 137 DeLaet Drive in the Creeks, which is located on the city’s east side, with two to three staff on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The residents would have been mentally or physically disabled to some degree, requiring help with daily living tasks.
The care home would have been operated under licence by the Group Homes Society, and would have been subject to provincial and municipal regulations.
When the City of Weyburn sent out notice to the residents in the area of the proposal, there were concerns expressed, and in response, Colin Folk of the Group Homes Society met with residents to explain what was being proposed, and to allay any fears over the proposal.
Coun. Brad Wheeler, who is a resident in the area, spoke to council on behalf of the other residents of the Creeks, and said there were real concerns over property values being impacted by such a development. He noted the average value of the homes there is over $700,000, and is a “lifetime” home for some of the residents.
“There are safety concerns, as there are a lot of young children in the area. These people are physically or mentally challenged, and we are the furthest point away from any point in the city. To get residents anywhere, they will have to be bussed, and there are concerns about that,” said Coun. Wheeler, adding there are no guarantees that the level of care would never change, or that if there is a change in government, there could be policy changes as well.
“It’s not politically correct to say there’s a stigma attached, but there is. ... I feel badly if this is the case, but these residents have invested a lot of money in their homes. To have the provincial government come in and pick a lot I don’t think was the best choice,” said Coun. Wheeler.
Coun. Winston Bailey supported those concerns, but noted, “The last thing I want to do is tell a business not to come and develop in the city.”
He had been in contact with some of the residents in the area and heard the concerns that they raised, agreeing with the suggestion that property values could be negatively impacted by such a development.
“I definitely echo the other councillors and I will not be supporting this project,” added Coun. Jeff Chessall. “I do wonder how much discussion there was between the developer and the residents.”
“I’m struggling with this one, folks,” said Coun. Dick Michel, telling council he was not able to make a decision without more information, in particular from the developer. He asked for the decision to be postponed for two weeks to allow him to get more information about the proposal, but he was voted down by the rest of council.
“Another two weeks is not going to delay anything. It has to be handled properly,” he said, adding he has heard the concern of the residents but wants to hear from the developer.
Amanda Kaufmann, planning and development coordinator for the City, said the developer of the Creeks, Doug Rogers, “has no opinion on this one way or the other”, and that the development came from the Sask. Housing Authority and Group Homes.
In a statement issued by Rogers late Tuesday, he said on behalf of Terra Developments, "We want the residents of Weyburn to know that The Creeks welcomes everybody to live or enjoy the amenities it offers to the City. The overall vision of The Creeks at full build-out is to be a complete and thriving community. This means on the residential side, it would need people of all income levels, culture and political ideologies living toether. We stand by this vision and are committed to it. Terra full supports the application for a care home in The Creeks. We feel this project perfectly complements the neighbourhood, and allows all individuals within the care home to be part of a safe and growing community."
“I totally respect the need for more types of housing, but I’m not ready to support it out there,” said Coun. Bailey.
Coun. Wheeler noted this decision was just saying “no” to developing this lot in the Creeks, and suggested there may be other areas of the city or other lots that could be developed for this use.