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Wednesday, 11 May 2011 20:48

Amended bylaw may help bring personal care homes to Swift Current

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Southwest Homes’ wish to purchase a new house may help bring personal care homes to Swift Current.

Southwest Homes, which helps individuals with intellectual disabilities, approached the City about modifying its bylaws to allow the organization to purchase a new home in an area not currently zoned for its business.

The City responded quickly by modifying its bylaws by deleting “housing for the elderly or special care home” and “personal care home” and creating new definitions. The new bylaw now deals with custodial care facilities, day care centres and residential care facilities.

According to the amended bylaw, Type 1 residential care facilities, which would include personal care homes, are now permitted in R1 zones, which include single-detached dwelling residential districts and single-detached small lot dwelling residential districts.

For Peggy Worrell, a co-chairperson with the Swift Current Personal Care Homes Initiative, that means it will be easier to bring personal care homes — privately-run facilities that provide medical care and comfort to clients who need less supervision than people in long-term care facilities — to the city.

“It will certainly encourage those entrepreneurs and organizations to proceed with actually developing a facility, hopefully several of them,” said Worrell, whose group didn’t lobby council to change the bylaw. “We’re really pleased with these changes and Personal Care Homes Initiative really appreciate the effort the City has made in this regard.”

Swift Current is the only city in Saskatchewan without any personal care homes. The Personal Care Home Initiative was created to help bring at least one to the community.

City Councillor Gord Budd is on the initiative’s committee and made the motion to change the bylaw. He maintains, however, the amendment came through administration, which is trying to update numerous outdated bylaws.

He is quite happy with the way the bylaw reads and hopes it will encourage people to open personal care homes in Swift Current.

“There’s nothing I’d like to see better than five or six personal care homes open,” Budd said. “It does make it easier with the changes. I know there have been lots of inquiries to the committee for what is required for a personal care home, so I know that’s one obstacle Council has gotten out of the way for anyone who might want to get one going.

“If somebody specifically wants to put in a personal care home, they still have to approach the City and say ‘This is where we want to put one, is it OK?’ At that point our bylaw enforcement people would determine if it was OK and it would come to council as a recommendation and we’d do it.”

In addition to benefiting people interested in opening personal care homes, the bylaw will allow custodial care facilities — a facility for temporary detention, open custody or participating in a community training program pursuant to the Correctional Services Act — to be within multi-unit dwelling residential districts with permission from the City. They may also be allowed in small lot dwelling residential districts.

Budd emphasized Council may not allow those facilities to open if citizens approached it with a petition.
“Bylaws are meant to protect people,” he said.

According to the amended bylaw, residential care facilities are facilities “licensed under provincial statue to provide, in a residential dwelling, long-term residential, social, physical, personal, nursing, or special care including accommodation, meals, supervision or assistance for persons who have limits on ability for self-care and self-supervision, and who are unrelated to the operator or owner, but not including a custodial care facility or hospital.”

The bylaw then breaks these up into Type 1, which is for residential care facilities that does not exceed five residents, excluding staff.

Type 2 is for residential care facilities with greater than five residents, excluding staff.

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