Rising Above Ministry has been permitted by members of the City of Grande Prairie’s Economic and Infrastructure Committee for a pair of new group homes.
This, just months after a group home application for a residence in Avondale was met with resistance from some residents and caused an in-depth look at bylaws surrounding group homes and like services.
“We’ve had some very good dialogue back and forth and that’s helped a lot to ease the concerns, and have a more cooperative spirit in that community,” says Rising Above Executive Director Mel Siggelkow.
The organization has been operating in the city for the last 13 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 in city hall.
As part of the larger discussion, the city administration has also changed some definitions in the bylaw which encompasses group homes. The proposed change to the definition of a group home will now include ‘a dwelling unit as a facility which is authorized, licensed or certified by [a] provincial authority to provide
room and board for up to six residents…that require professional care, guidance, and supervision.’
Siggelkow says he was happy to stick around for the process, as he feels like they’ve had a positive impact on potential changes.
“We know that the stuff we just worked through was probably what instigated these conversations. I like the direction they’re going, clarifying and defining some of those clearly.”
“It’s new territory for city administration and organizations like Rising Above, we had no idea there should have been a permit in place, the city didn’t think we would have qualified for that,” he adds.
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 that can potentially get them back on their feet for good.