A recently approved private inpatient/outpatient addictions and mental health counselling centre in Springbank has prompted calls from local community association members for changes at Rocky View County to fill “process gaps” in its development permit approval process.
Edgewood Health alongside developer Opus received approval to construct the 40-client private facility in Springbank earlier this year at RVC’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB). However, the company did not consult with community members prior to receiving the approval.
“From our perspective as a community association, we are all about process, and making sure there is a process for community engagement and a clear process for what is happening in terms of approvals for any type of new project in Springbank,” said Springbank Community Association president Karin Hunter. “It is difficult to see applications as they move through the County; so we have recommended to the County to improve transparency so we can see applications coming.”
Hunter argued Edgewood Health’s application went through administration at RVC, but wasn’t publicly available to be reviewed until it went to the Subdivision Development and Appeal Board.
“It went through (SDAB) and was approved by them before we even knew it was there,” she said.
In an interview, Dr. Christina Basedow, vice-president Western Canada for the Edgewood Health Network, acknowledged the oversight, and said her organization is committed to working more closely with community members going forward.
“The community wasn’t consulted with or acknowledged, and I know that was largely on the part of our developer, in the work with Rocky View, truly didn’t know to approach the community association,” she said. “It wasn’t intentional, and it was the last thing we wanted to do.”
To help make up for this oversight, Basedow agreed to attend a Springbank Community Association-sponsored open house on Nov. 7 to explain how the Edgewood Counselling Centre in the community will operate.
“The population we service is typically a population that is employed,” she explained to the Rocky View Weekly when asked to summarize those discussions. “They may have employer support or familial support. These are individuals who have no criminal records. They are not coming from a court-mandated situation. These are your (average) community members who are struggling, and just need additional support.
“All admissions are voluntary, and no one is forced to stay or be kept overnight.”
According to Basedow, the new counselling centre will offer inpatient and outpatient services to treat drug addiction and concurrent mental health problems for its clients, who will pay for their own treatment. It will also provide PTSD counselling for first responders.
The service offered in Springbank, Basedow explained, will have clients who are highly-screened and will accept no publicly-funded admissions.
“Springbank felt like a very good location in the sense that it is a home-like structure and a little bit off the beaten path, so people feel, if they are driving out there for service, it is not in their neighbourhood strip mall where they might run into people (they know),” Basedow said.
“It’s close to the mountains, so daytrips or hiking would be something that is part of the programming. It is also located in more of an industrial area (in Springbank), and so that allows people to feel more secure in seeking services. They are less likely to be identified, and there is still such a stigma surrounding mental health and addiction services.”
According to Hunter, the open house on Nov. 7 did help alleviate some local fears about safety and security associated with the new counselling centre, but not all.
“I think some questions were answered and some fears were alleviated due to the proposed programming Edgewood is planning to offer in Springbank … In terms of that it was good, but fair points from the community were raised,” she said. “One is this is not the city of Calgary, and you can’t just pick up the phone and get police there (if needed) in a short amount of time.”
The community association president noted another concern was Edgewood’s 15-year lease, which some residents felt did not offer any guarantee that Edgewood's treatment program and clientele won’t change over time.
However, for now, Hunter said community members in Springbank seem willing to give Edgewood the benefit of the doubt, but will be watching closely. They will also be watching Rocky View County closely in the expectation the municipality will be more consultative with community members in the future when these sorts of development permits come before SDAB and council.
“Once we realized Edgewood was approved, and Opus (the developer) was approved for a development permit, we reached out to them to try to clarify what they were planning in the community,” she said. “I think Edgewood was good at engaging with the community. It’s unfortunate it wasn’t before their approval.”