Saskatchewan

Weyburn, Sask., council reverses decision that blocked group home development

The city council of Weyburn, Sask., has reversed a controversial decision about a group home. Today council members voted unanimously to allow the home for people with physical and intellectual disabilities to be built in one of the city's newer neighbourhoods.

Original decision sparked outrage from politicians, advocates

Weyburn City Councillor Dick Michel previously put forward a motion to delay the decision and asked for more information from the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation. That motion had previously been defeated. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The city council of Weyburn, Sask., has reversed a controversial decision about a group home.

Today, council members voted to allow the home for people with physical and intellectual disabilities to be built in one of the city's newer neighbourhoods.

Councillor Mel Van Betuw recused himself from the vote. 

That's an about face from the decision council made earlier this month to deny the application.

The result was an immediate public outcry. There were protests and advocates sent an open letter to council.

Politicians and members of the public urged Weyburn's council to have another look at the proposal.

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

Now that that has happened, the home can proceed as planned — although with a few conditions added.

Those conditions include:

  • The property must meet the neighbourhood's architectural controls.
  • Three off-street parking stalls be provided for visitors and staff.
  • No more than four people can live there unless further approval is received.
  • The property will be maintained in a "neat and tidy order" as per city bylaws.
A young boy sends a message at a protest in The Creeks neighbourhood of Weyburn. Councillors in that city rejected a proposal to build a group home for people with disabilities in the newer neighbourhood, citing safety and property price concerns. (Matt Howard/CBC News)

Weyburn is a city about an hour south of Regina, with a population of about 10,000.

Following the vote, Weyburn Mayor Marcel Roy said new information was brought forward to council after the original vote on March 11.

"We looked at the information that came in, we were dealing with the information at hand that night, and then we're looking at the information here," Roy said.

"Weyburn City, if they made a mistake, we corrected it, and now we move forward."

Sask. Minister of Social Services Paul Merriman said he was pleased to learn Weyburn's city council had voted to move forward with the care home.

"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 in a news release.

'Stigma,' traffic, property prices

Prior to the March 11 vote, councillors listed "stigma," traffic concerns and a potential hit to property prices in the new upscale neighbourhood of The Creeks as reasons why they didn't want the group home there.

Following the protests, city council issued a written statement with an apology to those "who have been hurt by the words said in Council Chambers."

The statement said that some of the comments from Weyburn's elected officials were "not excusable."

With files from Bryan Eneas

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