Council approves group home registration by-law to support neighbourhood cohesion

Tue, 13 Dec 2016

In an effort to facilitate neighbourhood communication and cohesion, Council passed a new by-law — Group Home Registration By-law 2016-11 — that will see the town collecting business names, ownership and contact details of group homes in Oakville. Under the new by-law, town municipal enforcement services staff can respond to community questions and concerns by connecting residents with the group home operators. This quick intervention often leads to better community understanding and cooperation.

“In recent years, Council and staff have heard a number of concerns regarding activities at local group homes. Resolving these issues proved difficult because we did not know where exactly these homes were, or how to contact their operator,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “Our new bylaw will provide staff with much needed contact information to encourage dialogue and resolutions between neighbours.”

Under the town’s bylaw, a group home business license application/renewal must include a business name, ownership and contact information. The annual application/renewal fee is $93. Ownership and contact information collected through the licensing process will not be shared without the consent of the group home operator but is subject to normal Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requests.

A group home is defined as a supervised single housekeeping unit in a residential dwelling for the accommodation of three to10 persons, exclusive of staff, who by reason of their emotional, mental, social or physical condition or legal status, require a group living arrangement for their well-being

Although licensed by the Province, group homes are most often owned privately by a group home operator or a service agency subject to a service agreement. Service agreements outline responsibilities of group homes and may require the development of processes for dealing with resident concerns as well as inspections to ensure compliance with ministry standards including training of staff, documentation, files, interior maintenance of the home and overall safety.

According to the Municipal Act 2001, municipalities are only permitted to register a group home, but not regulate it. The town’s zoning by-law permits group homes in all residential zones, which is consistent with recent case law dealing with group home regulation.

For more information, review the staff report in the December 5, 2016 Administrative Services Committee agenda.