A Saskatchewan city council that faced a backlash after voting against the construction of a group home for disabled adults in an upscale neighbourhood has reversed its decision.
Councillors in Weyburn voted unanimously Monday night in favour of a discretionary use application for the facility in The Creeks neighbourhood, allowing the Saskatchewan Housing Authority project to move forward.
Council had rejected the proposal two weeks ago, with Coun. Brad Wheeler arguing that people who bought $700,000 homes in The Creeks might have changed their plans if they knew a group home was moving in.
Wheeler also said group homes carried a “stigma,” but he later apologized for his remarks and he wasn’t present at Monday’s meeting.
Rod Stafford, board chair of the Weyburn Group Home Society, said the past two weeks have shown how much support the facility had, both in the community and across Canada.
He said it shows how things can run off the rails if the process isn’t fully understood and followed.
“We’re very happy at whoever brought the pressure to bear on council … and it was positive for the group home society tonight,” Stafford said after the vote.
Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said in a statement he is pleased with the vote and looks forward to the home’s grand opening.
“Inclusive communities benefit everyone in our province and this group home will give people with intellectual disabilities in Weyburn the opportunity to live and be part of the community of their choice,” Merriman said.
Weyburn Mayor Marcel Roy earlier said that council did not intend to cause any harm, but residents in the neighbourhood had voiced concerns about the proposed group home.
Letters sent to council ahead of the original vote showed residents were worried about safety and a potential impact on property values.
The project’s developer, Doug Rogers, said he thinks everyone is happy that it has come to a successful conclusion.
“I think everyone has learned a lot in the last two weeks, and I think together, we’re just looking forward, moving forward to having this home built.”
© 2019 The Canadian Press