Faced with opposition to a proposed youth group home, the city’s elected officials concluded that neighbours’ concerns are more likely imagined than realized.
© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Children’s Haven executive director Lynda Douglas makes the case for a group home at 224 15th Avenue East, during Monday’s city council meeting.
During Monday’s city council meeting, a neighbour to the proposed group home at 224 15th Ave. E. expressed concerns to council about the project.
“I will be most affected due to my property being directly adjacent to the property,” Sharon Paproski told council.
“My greatest concern would be decreased property value,” she said, adding that friends of hers have come to the consensus that if they knew that a group home was in a neighbourhood they’d reconsider purchasing a house in the area.
“Who compensates me for my lost property value? I just installed thousands of dollars of windows, etc.”
In addition, Paproski expressed concern about added traffic to the area.
In a letter to council, fellow neighbours Allan and Julie McNay wrote that they also have concerns when it comes to added vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
“When our grandchildren come to visit, we want them to enjoy the backyard with fun, peaceful, safe and positive experiences,” they wrote.
Addressing these concerns, Children’s Haven executive director Lynda Douglas spoke in favour of the five-space group home for girls aged 12 to 16.
Representing the Native Co-ordinating Council, Douglas first addressed the safety concerns alluded to in the McNays letter to council.
“This home will have 24-hour supervision, (during) which the staff will be awake,” she explained. “Even at night, they’ll have trained staff, therefore I don’t see where children in that community can’t go out and play in their own backyard.”
Directed by Coun. Ted Zurakowski, Douglas clarified that the children at the group home will not have criminal records and will not be referred through a correctional system.
“This is going to be a home for youth who cannot live in their own home for whatever reason,” she said. “These youth are screened by the Ministry of Social Services.”
When it comes to traffic concerns, Douglas noted that the house they’re looking at for the group home has a two-car garage and space in the driveway for two additional vehicles.
Who compensates me for my lost property value? I just installed thousands of dollars of windows, etc. Sharon Paproski
The five girls at the group home are too young to drive and group home staff will drive them to and from school.
When everything’s said and done, Douglas said that she’s confident neighbours will see benefit to having the group home on their block.
After closing a similar group home after 23 years, Douglas said that they surveyed people who lived in the neighbourhood.
“They were all sorry to see us leave, because the lights are on -- somebody’s there 24/7, and they said that in the years that we were there were less break-ins because there was someone around.”
In addition, she said that if there was suspect activity going on in the area, staff was quick to phone police.
Putting forth approval of the group home, Coun. Martin Ring proved its most vocal supporter during Monday’s meeting.
“I’ve stood up here many times with regard to group homes, and I’ve had the same response,” he said.
When it comes to neighbours’ complaints that property assessments will go down, Ring referenced a group home on Muzzy Drive -- a neighbourhood in his ward.
“You’d be hard-pressed to point that one out, and that’s in a neighbourhood where the houses are $350,000 to $400,000,” he said, adding that he’s never heard a complaint about it.
“You’ve got valid concerns, but if I think when you look at the history of what this group brings to the table and the management of their homes, I think you’re in good hands.”
Council voted in favour of the group home, with Coun. Don Cody’s hand the only one in opposition.
Although he told Douglas that he admires the work of the Native Co-ordinating Council and its offshoot programs, he said that he wasn’t convinced that property values would not go down.