NORTH BATTLEFORD - A discretionary use application for a residential care facility has run into considerable neighbourhood opposition.
The application is from the Lighthouse Serving the Battlefords to North Battleford council to establish a Residential Care Facility - Type II at 1671 - 104th Street. This is in the R2 - Low Density Residential Zoning District.
The application would be to set up a transitional supported living facility. According to correspondence from Joannie McLean, Director of the Lighthouse Serving the Battlefords, the residents will be supported to develop life skills, as well as the confidence to live independently.
The application was up for consideration at Monday's meeting of North Battleford council. But the request has been met with pushback from local residents. The city reported they received 49 letters opposing the application prior to Monday’s council meeting.
Concerns were expressed in those letters about safety, increased traffic and noise, as well as a decline in property values.
Concern was expressed at Monday's meeting that many of those responses might have been based on misinformation, with writers under the impression that the location might be similar to the Lighthouse's shelter downtown, whose operations were taken over recently by Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs.
This was not the same as a homeless shelter, said Councillor Greg Lightfoot: "This is actually a transitional shelter.”
A delegation from The Lighthouse explained at the meeting that the intention is to use the location as a residence for Community Living Service Delivery clients assigned or referred to them.
The intention is to support them with developing life skills such as cooking, cleaning, hygiene, grocery shopping, budgeting, and so on, with a goal to help them eventually live on their own.
Currently, three CLSD clients are already living at the location. According to correspondence from The Lighthouse presented to council, the plan is for the location to be able to support an additional 10 transitional, supported living spaces.
The particular location had been utilized in the past as a halfway house and had changed hands a number of times. In recent years the property was abandoned for a period of time.
Councillors made clear the concerns from residents about safety, traffic and noise needed to be addressed.
“Everyone is imagining that the area around downtown with the existing Lighthouse right now is what’s coming to their neighbourhood,” said Councillor Thomas “Bill” Ironstand. “I do know our vulnerable community needs all the support we can give them, but we need to reassure all these people that sent us letters, with all their different concerns, that that isn’t going to happen, even in the slightest.”
"There is a lot of misinformation here, and I think a lot of our community is really not understanding what is happening or what is being proposed to be expanded within this facility," said Councillor Kent Lindgren later on at the meeting. He supported having The Lighthouse engage with the local residents on their proposal.
In the end, there was no final decision on the discretionary use application at Monday’s meeting. Council voted to table the application, until such time that the applicants can provide more information and address the public concerns, and also address the outstanding tax arrears on the property.
It was noted at the meeting that a substantial number of letters were received from Caleb Village, and administration recommended that the applicants begin communication with residents of Caleb Village to address their concerns.