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Site preparations expected to begin this summer

Work on the future site of the new Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health may begin as early as this summer. Alberta Health Services submitted its application for a development permit at the end of December and the project team anticipates receiving approval to proceed in late June or July. That means crews could begin grading, excavation and other work required to prepare the parcel of land in the northwest neighbourhood of Hounsfield Heights for development. In the meantime, the initial stages of design are well underway.

Plans to create a new Centre were announced last May, marking an important step forward in advancing mental health services for young people and their families. When it opens in 2021, the Centre will provide three new much-needed services: a Walk-In Clinic, Intensive Community Treatment and a Day Hospital. These services are aimed at helping families better identify and manage challenges before they escalate into crises that require hospitalization.

“The Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health will literally help to change the landscape of mental health care for young people in our city and beyond,” says Program Manager for the Centre, Ryan Clements. “We hope that purpose-building the Centre for kids and teens within a beautiful community setting will help encourage more youth and families to reach out for help when they need it.”

Knowing how valuable their voices were in planning for the new Alberta Children’s Hospital, the project team has been engaging youth and families to help shape the look and feel of the Centre. As a result, everything about the Centre – the light, the energy, colours, room layouts and furniture – are being specially designed to create a warm, inviting, youth-focused atmosphere. The architects have incorporated into early renderings an abundance of large windows, which allow the healing properties of natural light to be felt and enjoyed throughout the Centre. As well, the exterior look of the Centre features an origami-like design. This “wrapping” of the building uses interesting angles and lines to make the overall structure less intimidating and institutional-looking.

The next phase of design development will delve into greater detail for the interior and exterior of the Centre, including room configurations and finishes. Blueprints containing detailed specifications will be developed from there and provide the basis for formal construction to begin.

Two advisory councils will continue to consult on design and program development right up to the Centre’s opening: a Child and Youth Advisory Council made up of young people aged 12-21, and a Family Advisory Council consisting of parents. Between the two groups, there are over 40 advisors who have a diverse range of life and health experiences.

“They are all very passionate about this historic project,” says Ryan Clements. “Most of them believe the Centre would have made a big difference in their lives. They are committed to ensuring it will be a place that kids and teens will want to visit.”

Some of the areas for which the advisors are currently providing input include:

  • the development of a family and community resource centre within the new facility, including what information families need most and the best ways and times for access.

  • the key elements of what makes a program or service welcoming, including considerations to ensure the Centre is inclusive.

  • community organizations that could be engaged as partners to ensure the Centre becomes an integrated hub for clients and their families.

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