A rational rezoning

Dr. A.G. Ahmed speaks to city council's economic development and planning committee on Tuesday.When the news broke, more than 15 years ago, that the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital was marked for closure, the thinking was the city would lose its status as a regional centre for psychiatric treatment.

While that status has shrunk, it hasn't vanished -- at least not yet. News of a rezoning application for a psychology clinic on Perth Street is further evidence of this.

Council is now awaiting a report from city staff on the proposal by the Centre for Rational and Cognitive Therapies, a training institution for mental health professionals located in the building that once housed the offices of former Leeds-Grenville MPP Bob Runciman.

It turns out this centre, one of many Albert Ellis Institute affiliates around the world, has been quietly working away for the better part of a year, hosting five training events attended by 100 professionals employed in corrections, community mental health and hospitals.

Now, there's talk of getting a Queen's affiliation to further the centre's training reach, and opening up the building to private practice, according to demand.

The building is owned by Dr. Adekunle (A.G.) Ahmed, the head of forensic psychiatry at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, which operates the Brockville Mental Health Centre, formerly the BPH.

So, while city officials have been busy (rightfully so) chasing economic development opportunities in industry, we've had a small but productive centre working at maintaining Brockville's standing in the mental health field, developing a reputation among cognitive behaviour therapy professionals, and now gearing up to provide a needed service.

It's not a 100-job development, to be sure. Heaven knows we still need those. But the other part of economic development involves these smaller initiatives that establish a community's reputation in all kinds of fields.

Oh, and since so few people had heard of this centre until now, it probably doesn't emit an asphalt stink.