May 25th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 21
Senior housing board suggest lodge location is a provincial issue
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald staff photo
Location of proposed senior's lodge in Coleman.
Pass Herald Reporter
Council and the Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing Board say the provincial government is making the decision to relocate the community’s seniors’ lodge to Coleman.

There has been no official announcement of the decision. However, on May 4 the Pass Herald confirmed that the seniors’ residence to replace York Creek Lodge would be built in an empty lot north of the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex.

In July 2014, the previous provincial and federal Conservative governments announced plans to renovate York Creek Lodge, pledging about $9.12 million for construction. The plan was for seniors to remain at the lodge during construction.

In a statement published last month, the Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing Board said the plan to renovate had been scrapped and that the community had been approved for a brand new 61-bed seniors’ lodge.

The statement did not mention that the new lodge would be built at the site of a former trailer park in Coleman, as sources close to the Herald confirmed.
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Instead, the board focused on the new lodge’s small ecological footprint. The new facility is to be the first seniors’ lodge in Alberta built according to Leadership in Energy and Efficiency Design.

Many residents expressed their dismay with the new location. Some said it was too hilly for seniors who like to walk. Others said it was too far from the Crowsnest Mall with its medical clinic and a grocery store.

“Those I talked with are unanimous in opposition to banishing our seniors to some desolated barren hilltop to spend their remaining days in seclusion,” said Crowsnest resident Avner Perl.

Last week the Senior Housing Board fired back. Defending the proposed location in a statement.

“The board was asked not to divulge the location of the new lodge as all the details with the parcel of land had not been cleared,” it said. “Should we have jeopardized the funding?”

There were a limited number of spots to build a new lodge, said the board. The province needed a new site to be at least 1.05 hectares, the land had to be donated free of charge and it would have to be serviced with appropriate infrastructure.
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“The new location was the only parcel available to us that met that criteria,” said the board’s statement. “The provincial government had the final decision as to the location. The board thought long and hard before agreeing to the location but did not want to lose the project and all the funding.”

“Unfortunately we live in a long, narrow corridor and large pieces of flat land are hard to come by.”

The board said there were many reasons to pursue a rebuild in a new location. Having residents stay in York Creek Lodge during renovations would be difficult, it said, and the new building would better accommodate seniors with mobility issues.

“Widening the existing hallways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs was impossible,” said the board.

On May 17, council joined the Senior Housing Board in shifting responsibility for the decision to rebuild onto the province.

Councillor Marlene Anctil suggested the decision was final.

“It’s rubber stamped,” said Anctil. “We’re getting a new building.”

“We’ll have further discussions in-camera because the provincial government has asked us not to bring a lot of the details out into the public right now, so we have to abide by their wishes.”

“But it is a go,” she added.

“And it will be in Coleman?” asked Councillor Shar Cartwright.

“Yes, and that’s their decision also,” replied Anctil.

Tim Chu, press secretary with the Office of the Minister of Seniors and Housing, was asked for comment but did not reply before press time.
May 25th ~ Vol. 85 No. 21
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