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    Categories: Local News

Poundmaker’s pitches senior women’s lodge

St. Albert could soon be home to a new addictions treatment centre for senior women if the city agrees to rezone a house on Meadowview Drive.

The board of directors for Poundmaker’s Lodge announced Friday that it planned to turn the large house at 21 Meadowview Dr. into a healing lodge for women over 50 years. Poundmaker’s has leased the home from the Oblates of St. Mary Immaculate since March.

This is a sharp change from the original plan to put a youth treatment centre at the site, an idea raised earlier this year. Hints of the shift emerged Tuesday night at an open house at Poundmaker’s, where both plans were presented.

The board made the change Thursday night, said Marty Landrie, executive director of Poundmaker’s Lodge. There’s a definite need for treatment for both youth and senior women in Alberta, he said, but Meadowview seemed to be a better fit for the older generation. Residents at the open house had also been concerned about having youth there due to vandalism fears.

Most addictions treatment programs also focus on young women, adds board member Thelma Chalifoux, which leaves older ones feeling left out. Yet her experience shows that older women need just as much help, and are just as capable of making a recovery. “Once they decide to change, they really change.”

Homes of healing

Senior women are a forgotten group when it comes to addictions treatment, Landrie said.

“It’s not visible, but we know that it’s there.” Many suffered abuse and a loss of identity due to the residential schools, and developed poor parenting skills. “Now that they have grandchildren, these issues come up.”

Poundmaker’s accepts senior women, Landrie said, but Meadowview will let counsellors focus specifically on their issues. It will also give clients a space to get advice from other women elders. The Michif Institute’s genealogy branch will move into the home as planned.

The seniors’ lodge will be a drug-free facility with 24-hour supervision. “Every day is structured,” Landrie said, with clients not allowed to leave without the company of a staff member. Clients would also have to be off drugs since it wouldn’t be a detox centre.

The home will house about six clients at first, Landrie said, and could later grow to 14. “The need would probably be very local,” he said, with most clients coming from the Edmonton and St. Albert area.

The youth program will likely move to Poundmaker’s new outpost by the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage site, Chalifoux said. “That’ll be a more active treatment [centre]out there for youth,” she said, with an emphasis on canoeing and camping.

Zoning concerns

The city doesn’t have a land use category that would cover a treatment centre, said city planner Lenore Mitchell, so they’d have to re-zone it as direct control before Poundmaker’s could open one. Direct control is a custom category where the city writes a list of permitted uses and development conditions, all of which require council approval.

There’s no question that the region needs this kind of facility, said Mayor Nolan Crouse, but he wondered how the city would regulate it. “How do you have a condition on a direct control permit that lasts 20 years?” Supervision needs could change greatly over time, which could mean frequent changes to the permit.

Poundmaker’s will now formally ask the city to rezone the Meadowview house, Landrie said. “If this could happen in three months, that’d be great for us.” They may hold another open house if there’s demand for it.

The rezoning would likely go before council in late November, Mitchell said.

Questions on the project should go to Landrie at 780-458-1884.

Kevin Ma: Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.