A Rising Above operated home in the Avondale neighbourhood has been designated a group home by the City of Grande Prairie.
The organization has been operating in the city for the last 12 years, with several homes in different communities. But after it was discovered they had been operating without a development permit since 2017, officials had to make their case to those at city hall.
“This is the first time they’ve approached us about a permit, and so we’ve complied, met the requirements and that was approved,” says Rising Above Executive Director Mel Sigglekow.
However, the idea of the group home going into the Avondale neighbourhood was not met with open arms by all residents. Some voiced their concern over the potential group home, with fears ranging from a decrease in property value to an increase in potential crime in the neighbourhood.
Sigglekow says the group home has very specific sets of rules in place to try and alleviate the fears of neighbours.
“We require seven days clean so they can be detoxed at a medical detox facility where there is that supervision, which goes back to that we don’t have 24/7 supervision, we have more independence and autonomy, and so the seven days clean ahead of time is a key factor in that,” he says.
Director of Protective and Social Services Chris Manuel says he understands the concern but adds the complaints in some cases follow a distinct pattern.
“There’s always a degree of not in my backyard… and it’s something that all of these organizations have to fight with a little bit.”
Officials with Rising Above say they have helped over 1,000 people with their programs, which includes giving shelter, teaching both life and work-related skills, and ultimately, getting clients to a place which can potentially get them back on their feet for good.