Bashaw council wants to meet First Nations about family wellness centre

Written by Stu Salkeld

Bashaw town council wants more information from the group proposing a First Nations family wellness centre in the community, while also offering to meet with those organizers, nations and elders to discuss the proposal. 

The decisions were made at the March 7 regular meeting of council.

Councillors examined the development permit application filed by Bear Hills Family Wellness Centre located at 5430 51a Street which originally listed owner/operators James Carpenter and Dr. Tony Mucciarone. 

Readers should note the facility is located in a “direct control” (DC) zone which means town council approves zoning changes there.

On the application included in the agenda package “nature of the business” was stated as, “Family wellness centre. A centre to support and promote the wellbeing of families.”

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller, also Bashaw’s development officer, included a letter she sent back to Carpenter and Mucciarone which stated the development permit application wasn’t complete. Fuller stated some information was originally missing from the application.

The agenda package included that response from Lucy Smolcic, described as representative for Bear Hills. 

Smolcic’s letter included more information such as a phone number and mailing address and a description of services which Smolcic described as “The same services as the Bashaw Hub except on an expanded level,” then went on to list 18 services which included, among others, cultural teaching and elder teaching, medicine wheel teaching, the Matrix teaching on drug/alcohol abuse, AA program including 12 steps, National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse program and AADAC.

Assisting Fuller was consultant Liz Armitage, a registered professional planner, who stated the process is laid out in the Municipal Governmetnt Act (MGA) and is the same for all municipalities across Alberta.

Coun. Kyle McIntosh asked about the definition of a family wellness centre and Armitage answered there is no definition in Bashaw’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) which seems to fit what Bear Hills is proposing but she stated a definition is one of the pieces of information the town would like the applicants to provide.

McIntosh asked what was missing from the application. 

Fuller clarified the development permit fee was paid by a numbered company, resulting in some confusion while Fuller went on to say there was still confusion over who the applicant is and who the owner is although Smolcic clarified in a letter Carpenter and Mucciarone own the building involved and the operator is Audrey Ward, executive director of the Maskwacis Young Spirit Winds Society (YSWS).

Armitage lastly pointed out it didn’t seem the town was speaking with the “end users” and suggested a third party host a meeting involving the town and the end users.

According to the Youth Solvent Addiction Committee website, YSWS is “…an outpatient day program for aboriginal youth ages 12 to 17 years of age. Topics covered in the day treatment program include: Communication and self awareness; addictions and assessments; cultural identity; health and awareness; grief, loss and recovery; self esteem and peer pressure; anger management and cycle of violence; family and community; NAAAW; addictions and relapse prevention; coping skills and change.”

Mayor Rob McDonald stated he was in favour of a third party hosting a meeting between the Town of Bashaw and “the four First Nations” to discuss this application.

At this point, Montana First Nation Chief Leonard Standingontheroad said that there are protocols to be followed when meeting with First Nations chiefs and if the town wants to meet with them the town should send an invitation.

Councillors passed three motions unanimously, first to set a May 9 target for getting more information on the application, to begin the process of meeting with the four First Nations and to plan an information session about this proposal within Bashaw.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.