Champions Centre loses appeal

The Champion’s Centre will re-direct its efforts over the next few months after a plan to open a women-based group home was denied by Ponoka’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

  • May. 19, 2010 7:00 a.m.

By Jasmine Franklin

The Champion’s Centre will re-direct its efforts over the next few months after a plan to open a women-based group home was denied by Ponoka’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

An appeal hearing was held last month to fight the original decision made by the development authority that denied opening a women’s Champion’s Centre in town.

The reason was the same for both rejections: lack of 24/7 care in the group home.

“(The board) recognizes the need for a group home setting to accommodate the specific needs of residents within the community,” the rejection letter states. “The decision rests not on the proposed concept of a group home but rather on the absence on the 24-hour supervision.”

Now, Hanger is forced back to the drawing board.

“We are starting new with new partnerships,” said Jeff Hanger, Champion’s Centre interim executive director. “I understand there are problems with establishing group homes in all communities. I honestly believe all agencies trying to meet the growing need in Alberta for supportive housing are having to step up to the plate and constantly face challenges. We all are facing them.”

But Hanger is not ready to give up. The local Champion’s Centre board will sit down and start back at square one.

“We are so grateful for all the people in Ponoka who donated enough furniture to furnish this entire home,” Hanger said. “We will keep as much of it as we can until we find a place that will work and move it in there. The rest of it will be sent to Castaways and the Camrose Women’s Shelter.”

Hanger received notice May 17 that the Champion’s Centre incorporated has received $22,422 from the provincial Community Spirit grant program. The Ponoka Champion’s Centre also received a $5,000 grant from Service Canada to pay for a student intern.

Hanger said the Community Spirit funding will not go toward opening a women’s shelter in Ponoka.

Background

On Feb. 24, letters were distributed to neighbours and landowners in the area to disclose the new purpose for the home located at 5118 38th Street. The home would be changed from a single family dwelling to a group home.

The letter revealed details about the home: it would house five female residents over the age of 50, a manager would supervise a minimum of 15 hours per week to help with medications, budgeting and cooking. A lead resident would be assigned for times when the manager is not present, and the home would not be used as an emergency shelter. Children would not be permitted to stay in the home.

Letters to inform the public is mandatory by law when changing the purpose of a home under the current zoning. Because the home is classified as a single family dwelling, it sits under an R2 zoning which permits group homes as a “discretionary” use. Since the group home is “discretionary” and not “permitted,” neighbours had to be informed — and most were concerned about the proposal.

The proposal was rejected by the Town of Ponoka’s development authority March 16 for not complying with the bylaw stating, a group home must have 24-hour care.

The appeal board’s rejection letter did state that Hanger could appeal to the Supreme Canadian Appeal Board.