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August 10th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 31
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Province unveils blueprints of proposed seniors’ lodge
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Sitting at a small round table and enjoying a lunch that included white bread, vegetables and tea, the three elderly residents of York Creek Lodge reflected on the proposal to house them and their peers in a new lodge in Coleman.

“I figure it’s all right. It won’t be any different no matter what we say,” said Emily Juris.

“It’s true, we don’t get a big say in a lot of things,” replied Nancy Miiller. “Despite what they say about this grey-power thing. When they talk about that, they’re talking about 50 and 60 year olds, they’re not talking about us."

Miiller questioned whether she and other seniors would be able to make it up and down the hills near the proposed location.

“A lot of people here like to walk,” she said. “And there’s not a lot of places where we can walk at the new place except the arena parking lot, just because of all the hills.”

Iris Ruzik dismissed those concerns and said she hopes the new lodge “goes through,” surmising that there’d be plenty to see and do at the location when the area is developed “30 or 40 years from now.”

Miiller conceded the point and said she was looking forward to living in the bigger rooms at the proposed lodge, specifically designed for seniors confined to wheelchairs or walkers.

“I would love to get out of the tiny little room that I’m in,” she said.

On July 27, Alberta Seniors and Housing unveiled the blueprint for the proposed 61-unit seniors’ lodge at an open house at York Creek Lodge.
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The proposed lodge has been the source of some controversy since it was revealed that the preferred location for its construction is the site of a former trailer park behind the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex.

In June, local senior Carol Poelt told council that the proposed location was too hilly for lodge residents, many of whom have mobility issues, in going out for walks.

“I question whether the Coleman location is suitable for senior residents,” said Poelt to council. “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.”

Joanne Drain, chairman of the Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing Board, acknowledged that many York Creek Lodge residents like to walk within a short distance of the building.

She also acknowledged that there were some drawbacks to the proposed location but said the walking issue could be solved.

“Once this place is built and it’s all done, we will do everything we can to make paths and walkways so that they can have places to walk around there,” she said. “We realize the location has some issues but we are going to do everything in our power to overcome them. I’m not going to tell you we’re going to be able to do it all but we’re certainly going to try.”

York Creek Lodge is within walking distance of Crowsnest Mall with its medical clinic and grocery store. It’s also near the community hospital but the seniors’ lodge has its own bus to take residents wherever they need to be, said Drain.
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Patrick Kemp, project coordinator with Seniors and Housing, said the location was chosen from five potential locations that met the province’s requirements. The site needs to be at least 1.05 hectares, donated and serviced with appropriate infrastructure.

Kerry Nagata, project coordinator with Seniors and Housing, said the new lodge has been identified by the province as a pilot project for introducing sustainable initiatives to seniors’ housing.

The new facility will be the first seniors’ lodge in Alberta to be built according to Leadership in Energy and Efficiency Design (LEED), said Nagata. The projected completion date for the project is December 2017.

The plans revealed at last week’s open house show the lodge will have two attached cottages for residents with dementia, each of which could house up to 12 seniors.

Colin Zieber, executive director of Seniors Health in the South Zone, said dementia care is unique in that the focus is on having an environment that isn’t over stimulating.

“Some historic continuing care space isn’t designed for that,” he said.

The cottages would be smaller, home-like environments where the residents would be able to move about freely. Zieber said AHS has for years been pushing for purpose built dementia treatment spaces in the Pass.

“This is good news,” said Zieber of the proposed design.

In July 2014, the previous provincial and federal 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.

But after a feasibility study, the plan to renovate was scrapped and the community was approved for a brand new $14 million 61-bed seniors’ lodge.
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August 10th ~ Vol. 85 No. 31
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