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One More Step – Council Approves Amendment to Zoning Bylaw

At its June 25th meeting, Regina City Council unanimously approved an application to amend Regina’s Zoning Bylaw No. 9250. This is an important step forward in the process of creating Input Housing’s condominium building. The requested textual amendment removed the reference to “seniors” from the land use classifications of Seniors Assisted Living Apartment (low and high rise). The amendment requested the term Assisted Living Apartment which would allow any individual requiring assisted living to fall within the land use classification. A Discretionary Use application was also submitted for the consideration of an Assisted Living Apartment within the Harbour Landing Neighbourhood. In brief: mission accomplished! Unanimous approval for the requested changes, insightful questions and glowing remarks from Council members, and a round of applause from Council and observers to the meeting.

For those who like details, here is the text of our delegations to City Council, June 25, 2018:

Input Housing Corp. Delegation to City Council – Greg Popowich:

Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you this evening about our intentional community, known as Input Housing. My name is Greg Popowich, I work for SEPW Architecture, the designers of this building. I am also the parent of a 28 year-old young man who has an intellectual disability and will be a resident of one of the apartments. We are joined by other members of the board of Input Housing Corp., who are also parents of the future residents of Input Housing. We are especially pleased to have some of those future residents joining us this evening, as well.

I would like to acknowledge the City for the help and support they have offered during the planning stages of our project. This project is unique; it’s a “one-of-a-kind” and therefore does not fit neatly into any particular building classification. With guidance and encouragement from various individuals within the City, we appear before you this evening.

The eleven-unit building will be home to ten young adults with intellectual disabilities and a caretaker couple. This plan came from a shared desire by a group of parents to ensure safe, lifelong, family-owned housing for our children with intellectual disabilities. It answers the question, “What will happen to my child when I am gone?” This creative co-housing solution will allow the residents to live in safety, while realizing their full potential. In my presentation, you may hear me refer to the units as apartments or condominiums; the intention is to construct this building as a low-rise apartment building, with a conversion to condominiums upon completion.

Our model fits well with the City’s official Community Plan. One of the fundamental concepts behind this forward-looking document is the concept of providing complete neighbourhoods. Our future residents may be a little different from other people living in the area, in that they will need some assistance to live independently; however, they certainly have the right to live in a beautiful neighbourhood of their choosing.

We recognize change and the unknown may prompt uncertainty. We believe that by providing more information about our project we can turn negative perception into anticipation and optimism. In this approval process, we have encountered some concerns from area residents. I will address each identified issue separately.

Parking – It is most unlikely any of the ten condo owners will possess a vehicle. We anticipated people’s concerns and therefore our building provides one assigned parking space for each condo. This far exceeds the required number of parking stalls. Each resident’s parking space will be available for parents and visitors. This building may present fewer parking issues than any other residence allowed on the street. For example if single dwelling houses were constructed on these lots each building would require only 1 parking stall and therefore any overflow parking would be on the street.

Traffic, Congestion – As indicated, the residents do not own vehicles. Some residents will rely primarily on public transit; others will be assisted by family members or, on some occasions, service providers or taxis. Quite often their work and volunteer schedules do not coincide with the typical rush hour times, thus not contributing to traffic congestion.

Property values – This low-rise condominium will add to the beauty and character of the neighbourhood. The buildings design and exterior finishes compliment the design aesthetic of the neighbourhood. The yard has been designed by a professional landscape architect to add beauty to the site and neighbourhood in all seasons. Pride of ownership, rather than rental units, will help to ensure the building is well maintained and attractive.

Crime – The future residents of Input Housing are already valued, contributing members of society. Some have jobs, some volunteer…all are active in our City. They will be owners and long-term residents, not transients or troubled individuals. We are concerned about crime, too. The desire to provide safe, stable homes for ten adults is the very reason for the existence of this project. Although they are capable and will live semi-independently, they are also considered vulnerable adults. They are more likely to be victims of crime rather than perpetrators.

We would not be here before you if we did not passionately believe in our children’s right to have a safe place to live. We would not have embarked on this project if we did not know, from our experience, how much these young people have enriched (and will continue to enrich) our lives and the lives of all who have come to know them as friends, colleagues and neighbours. Thank you for your time.

Input Housing Corp. Delegation to City Council – Elizabeth Popowich:

Your Worship and Members of Council: Thank you for this opportunity to add a few additional comments to our delegation’s request for amendment to the Zoning Bylaw and a Discretionary Use application.

I am here this evening to speak as a parent and advocate, although anyone who knows any of the future residents of Input Housing will know how eloquently these young adults express their own dreams and goals for their lives. I can say with confidence any one of them will tell you why they want to have a place they can call their own; a place where ownership will guarantee no one can ever make them homeless in our city.

My chief purpose, though, is to address what we refer to as the “I” word. Through the course of this project, we have learned that sometimes what people don’t say is as important as what they do say. No one has actually uttered the word “institution” in any of these discussions but, since it has come up in the past, we feel it’s critically important for you, and the community, to know that this is NOT an institution. The people who will be living in the building are friends who have chosen to live in the same building together. Many share similar interests. They feel safe and comfortable in each other’s company. Together they form a strong diverse community made up of individuals. Their home first and foremost is an apartment building; the residents will own their suites. They will be responsible for their own schedules, jobs and volunteer activities; they will prepare their meals and choose when they eat; they will choose how, and with whom, they spend their leisure time.

Merriam-Webster defines an “institution” (in reference to a building) in the following manner: “A facility or establishment in which people (such as the sick or needy) live and receive care typically in a confined setting and often without individual consent.”

The residents of Input Housing will have individual consent…and the ability to withhold it; they will have the power of self-determination. They will be like family to each other when we are gone. They will also need, and receive, the benefit of guidance, when they need a little help. Input Housing is an intentional community of individuals…just like the rest of the neighbourhood.

Again, I thank you for the opportunity to address Your Worship and Members of Council this evening.

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