September 20th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 38
Province presents new seniors housing facility plans
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
New seniors housing facility plans.
Pass Herald Reporter
Residents of York Creek Lodge, Councillors and members of the public gathered at York Creek Lodge on September 14 to see the new seniors housing facility that is to be built in Coleman.

The new facility, which will be replacing the current York Creek Lodge built in 1980, is larger and more spacious. It boasts a greater number of resident and dementia units, as well as a broader range of resident services. The blueprinted facility is three stories high, facilitated with elevators. The main floor has few lodge units, with the majority being housed on the second and third floors. There are more places to socialize with visitors in privacy and a number of fireplaces scattered throughout the facility.

The new lodge will have a total of 85 units as opposed to the present 58: 61 resident units and 24 dementia units. As well, there is an increase in dining facilities in the new lodge: there will be a dining facility on each one of the floors as well as each the dementia branch. Single-story dementia cottages are scattered around the main U-shaped lodge facility, which has the possibility to be expanded further down the line.

There will also be a significant increase in unit and bathroom size, allowing facilitated accessibility for wheelchair and walker users. The resident suites are almost twice the size of a singular room right now.
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“The new facility standards are far greater than what was created for this building at the time that it was built,” said the facility’s architect Corey Leniuk, a principal at Red Deer's JMAA Architecture Ltd. Leniuk showcased the new lodge layout in a video that depicted a virtual walk-through, a 3D fly around of the facility and an interior rendering of the suites.

The facility will also be the first time Alberta Seniors and Housing is building a project incorporating green design with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This will be the first LEED-certified project in Alberta.

The new facility will meet silver status with LEED, which works on a points system depending on which and how many green energy elements are incorporated.

The new facility will be located on the site of a former trailer park behind the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex in Coleman.

As was the case when it was first announced, the location remains a serious concern for both current York Creek Lodge residents and those considering entering into a care facility, with the feeling that the location, which is up on top of a hill, would box seniors in.

The current lodge is within walking distance of the Crowsnest Mall and is also near the community hospital.

“I know that this is not the ideal location, but we didn’t have a choice,” said Joanne Drain, chairman of the Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing Board, when objections to the location arose at the meeting. “This was the best option we had. It was either that, or nothing.”

“Go for nothing,” quipped Carol Poelt, a Coleman resident currently living by herself, but thinking about entering into a home care facility soon. Poelt also has a brother currently at the York Creek Lodge. “They’re taking away the mobility from the people. Now, they can go downtown and shop if they want to, they have freedom. What kind of freedom are they going to have up on a hill? It is not a suitable location to be putting these seniors. It just upsets me to think that those people, with the knowledge they have, would think of confiding the seniors in something like that.”
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According to project coordinator with Seniors and Housing Patrick Kemp, the lodge has a terrace in the back, a courtyard area and walking paths around the facility.

“There are positives and negatives with everything. The decision was made to utilize this piece of property and we are working within the confines of that,” he said.

Mayor of Crowsnest Pass, Blair Painter, added that the municipality would not be opposed to budgeting for the installation of sidewalks to facilitate the mobility of seniors.

“When the facility is done, we need to see what we need to do to make it better for everybody. This is a great spot. It’s got a great view. There are lots of places to walk. Can we make it better? Absolutely. And I think our municipality needs to look at that,” he said.

To Poelt, however, the added outdoor accommodations simply aren’t the enough.

“Yes, they’re building a beautiful courtyard, but it’s not the same. My brother goes to the library, he goes shopping, he does things by himself. They say they’re going to supply a bus, but it’s not the same. You’re taking my freedom away from me because I have to depend on somebody else to take me somewhere,” she said.

According to Mayor Painter, Alberta Seniors and Housing had several stipulations for the parcel of land where the new facility would be built: it had to be donated by the municipality, it had to be at least 3 acres in size, it had to be fully serviced and it had to be ready to develop immediately.

The municipality had offered several parcels in Bellevue and a different parcel in Blairmore, but Seniors and Housing declined those offers. The municipality had no say on which parcel of land the facility should be built.
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Many people felt that the old hospital site in Blairmore was the ideal location for the new facility, but that land is intended to have the new highway go through it.

“Alberta Transportation wants a portion of it because our new highway is going to be going through that area. This new highway is going to happen within the next two to five years, they’re telling us. Would we, as a community, want our seniors right beside a four-lane freeway that’s deemed at freeway speeds, 120 km/hour? Is that the best choice for our community? I don’t think so,” said Mayor Painter.

One open house guest pointed out that the current lodge has its own drawbacks, with the train tracks and the horn blaring at odd hours of the day and night.

“I’m going to go back to a little bit of history that I think a lot of people have forgotten,” said Mayor Painter. “When this lodge was to be built in this spot, we had a lot of opposition from people in our community saying that this was the wrong place for this facility. Now, after 35 years all of a sudden, this is the best place in our community to build a lodge. In my mind, it’s the same thing with the location that was chosen now.”

Other open house guests felt that the location of the new facility was just fine.

“It’s large, it’s right downtown and I don’t know why they’re so dismissive,” said Betty Dodds. “It’s all this talk of Blairmore being central, but it doesn’t mean that everything has to be that way. Why wouldn’t we want the newest, most innovative facility in the province?”

According to Annie Lok, CAO of Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing, residents cumulatively make a total of approximately 10 trips a week off-site by themselves in the summer months, if they have a scooter. In the winter months, that number is zero.

When they feel like wandering off the property, most residents, says Lok, take the bus supplied by the lodge to Pincher Creek or the Legion.

According to Kemp, Alberta Seniors and Housing has received permits to allow for the property to be changed from its old use as a mobile home plot to the development for the seniors’ facility.

Construction of the facility is expected to begin early in spring 2018.
September 20th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 38
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