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Month: June 2011

Failing the Frail: The Shuttering of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital’s START Program

Short Term Assessment, Rehabilitation and Treatment

The START Medical Day Hospital provides a comprehensive geriatric assessment and group-delivered rehabilitation within the framework of an eight-week program to seniors.  The START Medicine Day Program (Short Term Assessment, Rehabilitation and Treatment) was established to meet the needs of the frail elderly experiencing increased functional loss due to acute changes as a result of multiple and complex medical conditions.

This summer the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital’s Short Term Assessment, Rehabilitation and Treatment program will complete treatment on the last group of Edmonton seniors to have benefited from this now 30 year-old program.  Since being relocated to the Glenrose, cutbacks have reduced the number of patients who have been able to seek treatment.

The program, however, has never stopped providing hope to the individuals and families living with and coping with chronic medical conditions and disabilities.  I’ve seen first hand, treatment at the Glenrose free a loved one in my immediate family, from the confinement of a lift-chair and a state of near immobility.

Between the soundbytes and accusations, are the day-to-day lives of frontline staff and those in need of, or in the care of, health services in Alberta.  The most painful path an individual may take to become a prisoner isn’t to commit a crime, it’s to be inflicted with a chronic illness or disability and be unable to seek treatment.

With the closing of the START program, our seniors and those struggling with illness and disability are being separated from the treatment options which have been provided by its dedicated staff, staff who in the face of previous budget cuts have been forced to provide treatment and conduct exercises in whatever space was available to them, including busy hallways.

My family and I are providing this testimonial in the hope that the Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services will allow this program and its staff to continue to treat frail Albertan’s in need of help.

Mining Disclosure Statements – Part 1

Featuring everything short of crayon, perhaps the messiest paperwork ever to be filed are the campaign disclosure statements from civic elections. The statements from Edmonton’s 2010 election were made public in late April, and while there are more enjoyable things to do than read through bad handwriting and a lack of alphabetical sorting, here’s a rummage through them, starting with the Councillors for Wards 1-4.

I’ve broken it down by “top 5 donors” (a number of donors contributed to a campaign more than once, and while I’ve tried to catch each instance, the forms were scanned, and are not well sorted or searchable so I may have missed a few), “Out of Province Contributions” (as they would have to be returned under provincial rules), “Katz Group of Companies” (Donations from a company belonging to the Katz Group), and “Donations Returned”.

 

Ward 1 – Linda Sloan

Top 5 donors:

1.  Rex & Florence Dales – $5000

2.  Tim Shipton – $5000

3.  Union #52 Benevolent Society – $3410 + $590 Total=$4000

4.  Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 30 – $3800

5.  Edmonton Firefighters Union – $1000 + $ 590 + $590 Total=$2180

Out of Province Contributors:

D&S Gill Investments – Mississauga, ON – $1000

Dundee Realty Corp – Saskatoon, SK – $295 + $295 Total=$590

Katz Group of Companies

Medicine Shoppe Canada – $250

Contributions Returned

$0

 

Ward 2 – Kim Krushell

Top 5 donors:

1.  Joann & Doug Goss – $5000

2.  Brian Heatherington – $5000

3.  Edmonton Firefighters Union – $1000 + $1000 Total=$2000

4.  Alldritt Development – $1600

5.  Jatec Ltd. – $1590

Out of Province Contributors

$0

Katz Group of Companies

$0

Contributions Returned

$0

 

Ward 3 – Dave Loken

Top 5 Donors:

1.  Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 – $2500

2.  Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 30 – $1500

3.  Union #52 Benevolent Society – $1500

4.  Coalition of Edmonton Civic Unions – $1200

5.  UFCW – $1200

Out of Province Contributions

$0

Katz Group of Companies

$0

Contributions Returned

$0

 

Ward 4 – Ed Gibbons

Top 5 Donors:

1.  Brian Heatherington – $5000

2.  Edmonton Firefighters Union – $2000

3.  Amalgamated Transit Union #569 – $2000

4.  Aurum Industrial Development Partnership – $2000

5.  Alldritt Land Corporation LP – $1600

Out of Province Contributions

Clareview Properties Partnership – Toronto, ON – $1180

Dr. Lee Busse/Eleanor Adcock – Burnaby, BC – $590

Dundee Realty Corp – Saskatoon, SK – $590

1510837 Alberta Ltd. – (address in) Toronto, ON – $200

Katz Group of Companies

The Medicine Shop – $295

Contributions Returned

$0

One Step Back on SPR

In May of 2009, the Government of Alberta announced $6.6 million in funding for two Capital Region Housing Corporation developments.  The development slated for the Jasper Place area, sits in the community of Britannia-Youngstown, on the Stony Plain Road commercial strip, and within the boundaries of the Jasper Place Revitalization Strategy.  When developed with input from community residents, and approved by Edmonton City Council in 2009, the JPRS called for future development of Stony Plain Road to be mixed-use, with street-oriented retail and multi-unit residential above.  The development here does include ground floor retail facing Stony Plain Road, with 20 studio/bachelor affordable housing units in the floors above.

As the development has reached completion, its first retail tenant has moved in:

In an area already well saturated with adult-oriented businesses such as cash/pay-day-loan stores, pawn shops, adult video & etc, this is the first retail tenant of a tax-payer funded affordable housing development, within an area undergoing tax-payer funded “revitalization” efforts.

I’ve had the great opportunity over the last few weeks to discuss neighborhood revitalization and mature neighborhood sustainability with some of the city’s foremost experts on the subject.  I’ve heard great disussions on the negative effects a concentration of adult-oriented businesses (pawn shops, pay-day-loans, etc) can have on a community.  How they’re often found concentrated in areas of distress, and the best description I’ve heard, “outposts of distress”, ‘a poisonous combination of taking from a community without generating any reinvestment’.

Addressing the issue was a defined component of the Jasper Place Revitalization:

Declining and relocating businesses have left a retail vacuum which has been filled with an over-concentration of pawn shows, adult bookstores, massage establishments, and cheque cashing establishments in three core, centre block

Goal 3: Building our community

Short Term Actions

Custom commercial overlay on all pawnshops and adult shops until a new zoning plan for Stony Plain Road business corridor is complete including density, design and zoning standards

 

As someone who has volunteered on the JPR steering committee, I’ve seen the situation as multi-fold;  Grandfathering protects the concentration that exists now, establishing a commercial overlay against a pay-day-loans operation is difficult as they currently fall under the broadly defined Professional, Financial and Office Support Services in Edmonton’s zoning bylaw, and no action has been taken at a legislative local level, except for the following motion from October 29th, 2008:

 

Text Amendment to the Zoning Bylaw with a Stony Plain Road Commercial Overlay

Moved K. Leibovici – L. Sloan:

That Administration prepare a text amendment to the Zoning Bylaw with a Stony Plain Road Commercial Overlay containing the following:

  • Prior to issuing a new development permit for bars, nightclubs, neighbourhood pubs, adult entertainment shops, pawn shops, cash stores, massage shops, or for an increase in occupancy load of bars, nightclubs, and neighbourhood pubs, the applicant shall:
  1. Contact affected parties including the president of the adjacent community league(s), and Stony Plain Road Business Revitalization Zone.
  2. Outline details of application to affected parties and solicit comments.
  3. Document opinions and concerns expressed by affected parties.
  4. Submit the documentation as part of the development permit application.
  5. Apply for a DC2 provision for bars, nightclubs, adult entertainment shops, pawn shops, cash stores, massage shops, neighbourhood pubs, within the Stony Plain Road Business Revitalization Zone area.
Planning & Dev.Council Public Hearing

Due: To Be Determined

 

G. Heaton, Deputy City Manager’s Office, answered Council’s questions.

Carried

For the Motion: S. Mandel; B. Anderson, T. Caterina, E. Gibbons, R. Hayter, B. Henderson, D. Iveson, K. Krushell,
K. Leibovici, L. Sloan, D. Thiele.

Absent: J. Batty, A. Sohi.


A lot of time, sweat, and effort from business owners and volunteers has gone into local revitalization.  There are property owners along SPR, who out of concern and support for these local efforts, have taken it in the pocket, turning down offers to rent space when they felt doing so would hinder revitalization.  Obviously not all in the area are willing to do the same, but in the abscence of any legislative tools to address a concentration of predatory/adult-oriented businesses, it’s going to fall to landlords to make the right choices for the Stony Plain Road commercial strip and surrouding communities.  When the landlord and development in question is funded by millions in taxpayer dollars, I absolutely expect nothing less.  CRHC has advertised this as a development that will “help enrich the community of Britannia-Youngstown”.  For the revitalizating community surrounding it, and the future tenants in need of stable, affordable housing, this choice of retail tenant fails both.

 

Some more light reading:

Does Fringe Banking Exacerbate Neighborhood Crime Rates? Social Disorganization and the Ecology of Payday Lending

August 23rd Update – It’s been several months since I first contacted the CRHC asking for a response from them on this issue, I still have not received a reply.

Derelict

Anyone who knows me well has probably seen this photo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and these:

 

It’s a former derelict property here in Jasper Place, there are many like it out there, but this one was mine to try deal with.  As a new Community League Civics Director in 2009, this was first issue I took on, and the first presentation I ever made a city hall.  Gutted by fire it sat, for well over a year (despite repeated complaints from it’s neighbors), just as you see it, empty, derelict, an eyesore and a dumping ground/outpost (across the street from an elementary school) for whoever wanted easy access to the backyard.  Up until the time the house changed hands and the site was redeveloped as a duplex, any clean-up was more or less relegated to someone waving a weed-whip around the front fence.

If we want to revitalize mature communities, cultivate a demand for housing and infill development, and move the spread of population growth towards Edmonton’s urban core and less into unsustainable sprawl; then lets start by living, eating, and breathing livability.

As residents of older communities, not only do we get the possibility of having to look at one of these everyday, and live with the nuisances and disorder it can create in our neck of the urban woods, we get to pay for the related costs on the city and the province.   It’s our increasing tax bill that has to cover the efforts of the Edmonton Police Service in dealing with the disorder and activity properties like this can attract (taking officers on the street away from other duties), the time and expenses incured by bylaw officers and other staff employed to deal with derelict housing, as well as those of provincial public health officers should they have to address a health hazard such as garbage piling up.  Meanwhile the root of the problem is more than likely seeing it’s property taxes reduced.

The opportunity for new forms of community standards and safety enforcement is two-fold.  First, to recoup some of the costs involved, from the property owner and not their unfortunate neighbors, secondly, to light a fire under the owner with a tax bill large enough to motivate one to reclaim and redevelop their property rather than sitting back while the community suffers.  A derelict tax levy would have the potential to do both.  It’s a suggestion I’ve made recently to the Mature Neighborhood Sustainability working group of the Community Sustability Task Force, and I hope to see it in the task-force’s final recommendations later this year.

Other options suggested to the working group: Winnipeg’s derelict building bylaw, and additionally, providing a tax credit to the neighbors on either side of a derelict property.

Make up your mind

There’s an interesting article out in the Edmonton Journal regarding resistance to the proposed downtown LRT corridor (part of the proposed Lewis Estates to Millwoods low-floor corridor).

Of course having been neck deep in the WLRT corridor debate back in the day, there’s a few things that caught my attention, bringing back memories of 2009.

“All I hear from communities, and I hear lots, is that our administration is absolutely intransigent,” Mayor Stephen Mandel told transportation officials.

“(You) say, ‘We will listen to you’, but you have no intention of listening to anybody. You have your minds made up.”

The first being a word (highlighted above) which no doubt gave the senior transit planners in attendance, bad flashbacks to 2008.  The second being my flashback to 2009,“(You) say, ‘We will listen to you’, but you have no intention of listening to anybody. You have your minds made up .”

The 2009 public involvement process for West LRT corridor selection was preceeded by the annual  State of the City address (quoted below)…

Imagine an area like Stony Plain road maybe, with tons of shops and cafes and trendy apartments or lofts above each one. You can live and work on the same street and have the LRT connecting you to everything else, and everything else to you.

It wasn’t easy trying to find value in “public consultation” when the city’s lead decision maker picked his route, and announced it at the podium the day before.  In the end, someone’s gotta make a decision.  In the beginning, sometimes it’s best just to be quiet and listen.