Pat Ross, manager of land and building services with the City of Whitehorse, recommeneded to city councillors on March 5 that they approve a conditional use application to allow a youth group home in Porter Creek. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse city council approves Porter Creek group home

Concerns about crime, noise and consultation overblown, councillors say

Whitehorse City Council voted March 12 to approve a conditional use application to allow a youth group home in Porter Creek.

The unanimous vote reflected the recommendation of city staff to allow the home.

On March 5, during the standing committees meeting, Pat Ross, manager of land and building services with the City of Whitehorse, presented a public input report on the appliation.

Ross highlighted information gathered from three written statements and four speakers who attended the Feb. 26 public input session about the project. Located at 22 Wann Road, the property is currently privately owned. In the past, a four-bedroom bed andbreakfast has operated there alongside a single residential home.

Transitional support services with the department of health and social services within the Yukon government plans to buy the property for use as a group home.

The group home will house up to 10 older youth, overseen by three staff, 24 hours a day.

The report systematically addressed concerns including the possibility of an increase in property crime. “Youth are capable of committing crimes in any neighbourhood whether residing within a group home or not,” read the report.

It also said there’s adequate septic system capacity and that the project would contribute to densification of the neighbourhood. The city’s official community plan promotes densification in existing residential neighbourhoods.

Coun. Roslyn Woodcock said March 5 that she lives downtown, within one block of four supportive housing complexes. She said she has been there 17 years and hasn’t seen any more crime in her neighbourhood than anywhere else in the city.

Woodcock said she found it difficult to listen to concerns, including those about the possibility of increased property crime and excessive noise, when there’s dire need of such housing in the city.

“Those concerns are problematic for me because I don’t think they’re grounded in reality,” she said.

Some residents also said they were concerned by the lack of consultation on behalf of the Yukon government in going ahead with the project.

Letters recently went out to 112 addresses within a 100-metre radius of the proposed home. Letters also went out to the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Ta’an Kwach an Council, Yukon Government Lands Management Branch, and the Porter Creek Community Association.A notice of the development was run in local newspapers on Feb. 9 and Feb. 16.

Coun. Betty Irwin wondered when people became so concerned with consultation, particularly when Irwin said she feel this is a much-needed project that will benefit the whole community.

“We have to take care of youth,” she said. “Is it all talk?”

Coun. Dan Boyd wanted to know if it was an option for council to go back to YG and ask them to do further consultation. Ross said yes, but noted he would have concerns about what form that consultation would take and what the expectations would be.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said that while she sympathizes with residents’ concerns around consultation, she thought it was dangerous territory to tread if council decided to direct the issue back to YG and ask for further consultation with residents. She said it wasproblematic for council to tell YG how to do its business.

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

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