Historic southern Alberta psychiatric hospital’s future in limbo

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WATCH ABOVE: A historic building in the town of Raymond has been sitting vacant for 10-years and is facing an uncertain future. But, as Erik Mikkelsen reports, it’s past is more than interesting – Mar 28, 2016

LETHBRIDGE – A building standing tall among the prairies that once housed professors and students, and later nurses and doctors, now sits vandalized and vacant.

“Oh my gosh, it’s tragic,” Town of Raymond councillor Cathy Needham said. “It’s a beautiful building and so many of our residents love this building.”

It was first built and used as an agricultural college and was later transformed by Alberta Health Services to the Raymond Care Centre. It now sits empty along a lonely road.

It isn’t uncommon for southern Alberta towns to have historical buildings mixed in among newer developments, but members of the community are hoping the Raymond Care Centre can be saved before it’s too late.

“It’s a connection to our past,” Stewart Foss of the Raymond & District Historical Society said. “As we take out these buildings we start to erase our history, and erase that connection we have to the early days.”

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Foss said this isn’t the first time the building has sat vacant in its history. Starting in 1931, the college closed and was unused for around eight years before the province renovated and turned it into the care facility.

“That’s kind of where we are at right now,” Foss said.

“It’s another period of time where the government doesn’t – didn’t really know what to do with it at the time, and they didn’t have a use for it as an agriculture college anymore.”

AHS still owns the property and has discussed its future with Raymond town officials in the past. However, no plans have yet to be finalized.

Foss and Needham both agree that the building is a staple monument in the community, and with a bit of help, the possibilities for its future could be endless.

“There are so many different groups in our community that could be housed here and make this a showcase, rather than something that we are brokenhearted over,” Needham said.

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