Jasper Place Wellness Centre
In stark contrast to the greys and browns of this back alley stands the Jasper Place Wellness Centre Health Clinic, with its yellow, blue, pink, and black striated patterns radiating out from its walls. As you stand in front of the health Centre, you can see a small parking lot and a ramp that provides accessibility to those who have physical challenges. The Centre focuses on building community in West Jasper Place, with a specific focus of addressing the social and health-based inequalities facing low-income and vulnerable individuals. They do this by working with people and assets to find innovative solutions in the fields of health care, business/employment, food security, community building, and affordable housing.
They also work from an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) perspective, an approach to sustainable community-driven development that focuses not on the flaws of community members, but on their strengths and gifts that enrich the community. This stems from a belief that community building happens in many ways, from individual connections and relationship building, to systemic change.
This specific location provides affordable health care for residents in this area. Affordable Health care is a necessity for everyone, especially those living in poverty who face many barriers to diagnosis and treatment, including a lack of identification and health insurance, transportation barriers, and systemic discrimination. Coupled with reduced access to healthy and nutritious food and mental health supports, these factors combine to result in reduced health outcomes for the unhoused community and those living in poverty.
Adding to this, the Covid-19 pandemic has only served to heighten this inequality. Factors such as an uneven access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and vaccines, as well as an inability to work from home, have worsened existing health issues in the community. Barriers to accessing health care services, testing locations, including transportation and program hours, as well as fear of losing work hours if required to isolate, have also contributed to the widening socio-economic gap. In order to combat this, the Wellness Centre runs a Community Health Clinic that focuses on providing services for individuals who may not have access to readily available healthcare.
The Centre offers a range of services other than affordable health care. Other services include housing, employment, community programs, emergency food hampers and low-cost food baskets. All of these programs are offered with the understanding that the wellbeing of an individual involves more than physical health. The Jasper Place Wellness Centre thus provides a wellness-based service approach that aims to meet the varied holistic needs of every individual.
Continue west down the alley and turn back onto Stony Plain Road via 154 street. Go past 156th street and cross Stony Plain Road once you see the trees and shrubbery of Butler Memorial Park. At the next stop, we see how poverty affects some things many of us take for granted, the freedom and ability to easily get around our city for work, social or living purposes and necessities as well as the transportation barriers that many in our community face.