The proposed youth group home at 22 Wann Rd. in Porter Creek will go ahead after council voted unanimously on March 12 to pass an application for its conditional use. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Porter Creek group home gets final go-ahead from City of Whitehorse

‘In order for youth to be successful, they need to have life skills’

The proposed youth group home in Porter Creek will go ahead after council voted unanimously to pass an application for its conditional use.

After weeks of discussion in council, and public feedback both positive and negative, the vote was relatively unceremonious.

When it came up at the general issues committee on March 12, every member of council raised their hand to pass the application without further discussion.

“We’re delighted,” Brenda Lee Doyle told the News on March 13. Doyle is the assistant deputy minister of health and social services with the Yukon government. “Absolutely delighted. This is such a step forward for youth.”

The home will be located at 22 Wann Rd. Formerly, the house and adjacent garage served as a privately owned home and bed and breakfast.

As a supportive housing facility, it will provide living space for up to 10 older youth, who will be supervised 24 hours a day by two to three staff.

Doyle said it can be difficult for youth who grow up in homes to transition to independent living. The home in Porter Creek will be the first of its kind in the Yukon — one that focusses on teaching older youth the skills required to live alone.

“There’s a national problem around making sure that youth who have grown up in care have the skills for independent living,” she said.

In the Yukon, there are often three or four youth a year in this position.

“In order for youth to be successful, they need to have life skills, cooking and cleaning skills.”

Doyle said there will be assistance for applying to schools. She said the government is also looking at how it might tie in community partners, and additional supports and agencies.

Youth will likely begin moving into the house in November or December of 2018.

Doyle said the process for deciding who moves in is still being fleshed out, but the plan is to look at attachments individuals might have to the community, and to try and match residents who will be in the house together.

Now that the government knows the application has gone through, it’s focusing on the purchase of the property. That should be completed by the end of April.

After that, the house needs some renovations including updating a sprinkler system and making the house more accessible.

In the coming weeks though, Doyle said the government will meet with neighbours to tell them more about the home and how they might be able to get involved. She said she has already received letters from residents asking how they can help.

The city also received written and in-person submissions from Porter Creek residents who were worried about potential issues including an increase in crime, proximity of the house to licensed establishments, and the lack of neighbourhood consultation on behalf of the government.

During discussion about this, councillors were expressed concerns about delaying the project because of these issues.

Coun. Roslyn Woodcock said she didn’t think a number of the concerns, including those around increased crime, were grounded in reality. Many members of council cited the need for such a facility in Whitehorse. A report from city staff indicated it was in line with the city’s official community plan to promote densification in existing residential neighbourhoods.

Doyle hopes further conversations can help all residents learn more about the plans for the home.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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