North Battleford City Hall plans to review its zoning bylaw impacting Saskatchewan Approved Private Service Homes in the city, so they may not need council’s special approval to operate.
In these homes, adults with intellectual disabilities or mental illness live with the homeowners and their families in an inclusive, supportive environment.
Iris Miller Dennis, executive director of Saskatchewan Approved Private Homes Inc., gave a presentation to council about how the Private Service Homes Program works.
She said these homes, where an individual with disabilities lives, “are truly family homes, and community-based homes.”
Miller Dennis said often the homeowners feel they “have a calling” to bring adults with disabilities into their family, and help them.
The Ministry of Social Services provides level-of-care payments on behalf of residents through the Ministry of Social Services Saskatchewan Assistance Program, or the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability Program.
“We don’t have a lot of approved (private) homes in North Battleford,” Miller Dennis said. She estimates there are about 25 of these types of homes operating in the city.
She said a young family recently decided to apply to open their home for this purpose, so the zoning issue came up. All participating homeowners are trained and vetted before they can offer the service.
“Every placement is made with sensitivity around families working well together, and ensuring the home can provide, for whatever care needs there are for that individual,” Miller Dennis said. ”We are always looking to open new approved homes.”
North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater said council will discuss zoning for these residences at a future meeting.
"What we have been asked to consider is amending our zoning bylaw," he said. "The current practice is that private service homes are a discretionary-use within our residential areas.”
That means if a family wants their home to become a private service home they require council's approval first.
"It's been identified to us that this is a deterrent to participation in private service homes," the mayor added. "So they've asked council to consider amending the zoning bylaw to make it a permitted-use in a residential zone."
Bater said this way an operator who qualifies under the Private Service Homes Act, would not require city council's approval.
City administration will need to prepare a proposed zoning bylaw amendment, host a public hearing, have three readings of the bylaw and a debate at council before the amendment can be passed.
The mayor said the delegation provided “a lot of useful information” about the homes.
"I think we want to encourage this kind of activity," Bater said. "If (asking for council’s approval) is a deterrent for participation, then perhaps we ought to consider just making this a permitted-use within the residential zone in the city."
"It's just another road-block to go through,” the mayor said. “To encourage more people to participate, we’re being asked to consider taking down a roadblock.”
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