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Edmonton Councillor Tony Caterina wants changes to how group homes are placed in communities

Earlier this month, police raised the alarm about how one group home was being managed after a 17-year-old girl who was living there was charged with murder.

Edmonton Police raised concerns about how this group home was being run after one of the residents was charged with murder.

Ryan Tumilty / Metro Edmonton

Edmonton Police raised concerns about how this group home was being run after one of the residents was charged with murder.

Edmonton city Coun. Tony Caterina wants a new approach to zoning approvals for  group homes, arguing residents have a right to know when a new home moves into their neighbourhood.

Currently, group homes with less than six occupants can be approved without any public notification. Caterina wants to change the city’s bylaws to make them a discretionary use in neighbourhoods, which wouldn’t stop them from being built, but would require development officers to notify nearby residents. 

Earlier this month, police raised the alarm about how one group home was being managed after a 17-year-old girl who was living there was charged with murder.

Caterina said it’s about giving residents all the facts.

“It alleviates a lot of the fear,” he said. “Most of the fear is that you don’t know what is going in, so you think of the worst-case scenario.”

Caterina said the current approach doesn’t give residents the information they need to make informed decisions. He said he had three group homes close to his home for decades and was completely unaware.

Alberta Avenue resident Cora Shaw lives near the group home that police were concerned about and said she would welcome the change Caterina is proposing.

“Right now we don’t know how many group homes there are in a given community,” Shaw said. 

She explained group home near her was initially not a problem, but over the past few years the situation has slowly changed with more problem residents and a seeming lack of supervision. 

Following the young girl's arrest, the Alberta government launched a review of the group home to look at staffing levels and other concerns.

She said changing the rules might encourage group home operators to make more contact with the community and ensure there are ways to address concerns.

“We also need to know if there is going to be an issue, who do we contact and how do we make sure these group homes are going to be run appropriately,” she said.

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