Saskatchewan

Weyburn City Council apologizes for comments in group home debate

City council in Weyburn, Sask., has apologized to residents and other Canadians for using insensitive words after a controversial decision to reject a care home for people with disabilities. But the council hasn't said whether it will reconsider the move.

Premier, other politicians, call on council to rethink decision excluding home from upscale area

Weyburn city councillors, including the mayor, voted Monday to reject the construction of a group home for people with disabilities. (Matt Howard/CBC News)

City council in Weyburn, Sask., has apologized to residents and other Canadians for using insensitive words after a controversial decision to reject a care home for people with disabilities.

But the council hasn't said whether it will reconsider the move.

A letter from the council, which was posted online Friday, said it's deeply sorry for what was said in council chambers earlier this week.

"We would like to sincerely apologize to the community of Weyburn, the province of Saskatchewan and fellow Canadians who have been hurt by the words said in Council Chambers on Monday," said the letter.

"The intent of the conversation was never to hurt or exclude any group or individuals. We handled the situation poorly."

Concerns about safety, property values raised by residents

Elected officials voted Monday to reject a proposal for building the group home in a new upscale residential area, saying it would dash the dreams and hopes of the people who currently live there.

Residents had cited concerns including safety and an impact on their property values.

Several Saskatchewan politicians — including Premier Scott Moe, Social Services Minister Paul Merriman and legislature member Dustin Duncan, who represents the Weyburn area — have called on city councillors to change their minds.

Coun. Dick Michel said Friday that council wanted to speak in a unified voice on the issue.

"A mistake has obviously been made and it has to be fixed," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Weyburn mayor not commenting on Friday

Michel said any further comment should be made by Mayor Marcel Roy, but a spokeswoman for the mayor said council's practice is not to publicly comment on any development applications during the planning process.

Before Monday's vote, resident Alexandr Korytko wrote a letter asking council to allow more time so he could learn more about the group home that would be built across the street.

He also submitted an idea for the home to go up on another lot in the neighbourhood. He suggested the location would alleviate any parking issues and not be as tight of a fit.

In follow-up messages with The Canadian Press, Korytko says his family had negative experiences with people who were mentally disabled when they previously lived in a small town in Ukraine.

More information about group home needed: Councillor

"At this time, nobody can give me written paper about not keeping aggressive clients in the home. And I would like to work towards it," he said Friday.

Korytko said he believes more information about the group home is needed.

"Now I am planning to visit one of those homes, talk to neighbours to get more information," he said. "It's really something new for me and I don't know how to deal with it."

The letter from council said it supports work being done by residents, families and organizations to make Weyburn a better place.

"As a council, we are continuing to exhaust all avenues to find a solution to get the care home built and begin the healing process in the community."

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