The heartbreaking battle over a home for people with disabilities in Stonewall

A bitter battle over a proposed group home for people living with intellectual disabilities in Stonewall may have ended.

But for the three adults who will call nine Rossmere Crescent home, their battle is far from over.

They will continue to face discrimination from opponents who’ve forgotten it’s 2016 and fear the presence of an adult living with an intellectual disability.

The controversy started last December when the Association for Community Living put forward an application to Stonewall council to rent a home in the upscale neighbourhood of Stone Ridge Meadows.

Outdated zoning rules that have failed to keep up with provincial human rights legislation forced the association, which already has several group homes in Stonewall and Selkirk to make the request with council.

Sharon Inman has a son who lives with a disability.

“It’s really quite heartbreaking as a family member to have to go through this and to ask permission,” Inman told the Stonewall Tribune.

 Heartbreaking indeed.

“Most people do not have to ask permission for their family member to live in a home,” Inman said.

The controversy over the ACL group home has been the talk of the town, and likely will continue to be for months, and it’s all because of a handful of residents with a bad case of NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard.

One woman explained her rationale in a letter to the editor, “We are in no way “rejecting” the proposed group home residents. We are parents too. We are trying to protect our investment, maintain the single-family home zoning as it was when we invested in the neighbourhood.”

It was the same story two years ago in Gimli when the town council tried to update its zoning bylaw so organizations like ACL didn’t need to seek permission when opening a new home.

The RM of Gimli’s request was quickly met with opposition from residents living in the upscale community of Pelican Beach, who emailed the town saying they didn’t want ‘sexual deviants’ as neighbours.

But when opponents showed up to a public hearing attended by reporters, they weren’t so blunt.

Instead, they insisted they have nothing against people with intellectual disabilities or any group home for them – just as long as it wasn’t going near them.

“We have no problem with there being any kind of use anywhere else,” said one opponent, who feared his property value would be lowered if a home came to his neighbourhood.

Stonewall council voted unanimously to approve ACL’s request Wednesday night after hundreds of outraged locals threw their support behind the request.

But the opponents were nowhere to be seen.

So what’s the fear?

–With files courtesy of Jennifer McFee, the Stonewall Tribune.

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