Resident pleased with denial of application for foster care home

Frank Gale fgale@thewesternstar.com
Published on May 10, 2014
A request by Blue Sky Family Care for the operation of a foster care home at this residence at 8 Russell Heights has been denied.
Star photo by Frank Gale

Maurice Hynes was pleased to hear Stephenville town council unanimously denied a request from Blue Sky Family Care for the operation of a Level 4 foster care residential home at 8 Russell Heights.

Hynes, who lives directly across the cul-de-sac from the home, was among a number of residents on that street who attended the council meeting Thursday, as well as a meeting held by Blue Sky the evening before at Days Inn in Stephenville.

The company wants permission to renovate the house for use as a foster care residential home, but there were plenty of concerns expressed by people in the neighbourhood.

Council denied the permit, at the recommendation of the town’s planning and traffic committee, due to the level of care and treatment to be provided in the home as outlined by Blue Sky. Council deemed the proposed use to be institutional, which it said is not a permitted use in a residential, medium-density zone.

Blue Sky Family Care, a for-profit entity, won the contract to provide the care, which was formerly provided by the Bay St. George Youth Assessment Centre. The not-for-profit organization also bid to provide the service, but was not awarded the contract.

Mayor Tom O’Brien said the town will work with Blue Sky Family Care and the provincial government to find a suitable location.

“This is a service that’s needed in the Bay St. George Region and this type of care has to be provided for children and youth that require it,” he said.

Hynes said about 25 people attended the Wednesday evening meeting, which was by invitation to the residents of Russell Heights. He said there are only about 14 residents on the street, however, so the rest came from the surrounding neighbourhood.

He said some were almost in tears because of the proposed plans by Blue Sky.

“Ours is a street with people who are retired or about to retire, and for Blue Sky to insert themselves right into this location is not right,” Hynes said.

He was upset with the process Blue Sky had taken, purchasing the property without the town’s knowledge.

Hynes said he has strong concerns about safety, the amount of traffic this will create on the street and how it will affect the property values for homeowners.

While Blue Sky talks about having an excellent program, Hynes said residents that come into the facility can have complex problems and some are there awaiting trial, leading to more concerns.

Anne Whalen, executive director of Blue Sky, could not be reached for comment Thursday.