June 15th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 24
Local censures council on decision to relocate seniors’ lodge
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Pass Herald Reporter
“I will not go up on that hill”
says senior to council in impassioned plea

Carol Poelt does not want the new seniors’ lodge to be built in Coleman.
On June 7, the Crowsnest resident passionately objected to the proposed site for the new lodge but council says there are advantages to the location and insists the decision to rebuild on the site of a former trailer park is a provincial one.

“I question whether the Coleman location is suitable for senior residents,” said Poelt. “I feel that building the lodge in this area will take away the freedom of many who call the lodge their home. The hill will be too steep for them to go out with their wheelchairs, electric scooters or walkers.”

“Please consider the seniors and talk to them,” she continued. “There are many with sound minds and know just where they choose to live…why can’t the town come up with a better location?”

Poelt suggested that Crowsnest Crossing, the site of a former health centre, would be a better place to build.

“This land has been sitting for many years,” she said. “And I don’t see anybody beating down the doors to purchase it. Why not donate it to the housing board?”

Councillor Marlene Anctil said the Coleman location has its advantages. It is large enough for the possible eventual construction of a dementia ward, which would take pressure off of the Crowsnest Pass Health Centre’s long-term care services. The York Creek site was too small for such an expansion, she said.
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Councillor Dave Filipuzzi pointed out that the project was originally intended to be a $9.1 million renovation but is now a $14 million rebuild. He said the municipality would have had to contribute $100,000 for the renovation but that the province is now footing the entire bill.

He suggested the province was funding the entire project because the new facility will be state-of-the-art and a showcase property.

Mayor Blair Painter said the province considered sites in Sentinel, Frank, Passburg and Maple Leaf but they were found to be unsuitable. He said Crowsnest Crossing was not selected because it is “prime highway commercial property,” and revealed that three parties are, in fact, interested in its development.

He also pointed out that the decision to locate the lodge in Coleman was a provincial one.

“We give them property and they decide where they want to put it,” he said.

Poelt would not be mollified.

“I’m going to go above you people,” she said adding that she’d start a petition and would be taking up the issue with the province.

“I for one would not want to live on this hillside,” she said. “And as you know, I’m getting up to where any day I might have to go into that lodge.”

“I will not go there. Personally, I will not go up on that hill,” she said. “Because they’re going to take my walking away from me, my outdoor activity away from me and my fresh air away from me.”

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 the renovation.
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In a statement published April 20, 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 $14 million 61-bed seniors’ lodge.

In a statement, the Senior Housing Board said there were a limited number of spots to build a new lodge. 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.

“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.”

The board said there were many reasons to pursue a rebuild in a new location. There were flooding and safety concerns because York Creek Lodge is near the Crowsnest River and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The board said keeping residents in York Creek Lodge during renovations would be difficult and the new building would better accommodate seniors with mobility issues.

“Unfortunately we live in a long, narrow corridor and large pieces of flat land are hard to come by,” said the board.
June 15th ~ Vol. 85 No. 24
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