Sault city council looking at group homes

Sault Ste. Marie city council is asking staff to prepare a report on group homes. This comes after Ward 1 Coun. Paul Christian brought forward concerns this week about two such homes, citing their proximity to one another, as well as some safety concerns brought up by neighbours.

Christian, who could not be reached for comment, asked council to support a bylaw that would put in place a buffer zone between group homes. He pointed to concerns voiced by residents in his ward and the number of police calls.

Ultimately, a bylaw was not presented as council instead opted for a report on the matter.

“Group homes and social services residences that service vulnerable populations in general, those are really important services for our community,” said Ward 2 Coun. Luke Dufour.

“We need to make sure that any actions we take are threading that needle in a proper way, that we’re not stigmatizing these resources.”

Dufour said the staff report will need to look at the different types of group homes in the city -- specifically for-profit, private sector-operated homes.

“Part of their mission is to generate a financial return for their owners,” he said.

“They may be less incentivized to pay for extra security or higher levels of qualification for their staff than, for instance, an institution or a non-profit might be.”

A report on group homes and the feasibility of implementing buffer zones is expected by the next city council meeting in June.