Women’s shelter approved for temporary home to 2021

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The Town of Hay River has agreed to continue to offer space for the women’s shelter in Hay River.

On June 12, council passed a motion to extend the current lease of a town-owned house with the Family Support Centre for up to three years to July 7, 2021.

The Family Support Centre had operated in this now-closed building on Riverview Drive until last year. The building is set to be demolished, and a new women’s shelter built. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

No monthly rent will be charged, and the Family Resource Centre will continue to be responsible for all utilities.

The Family Support Centre relocated its women’s shelter to the house on Woodland Drive in July of last year for an initial one-year term, which was to end on June 30.

While in the temporary accommodations, it plans to demolish the old shelter on Riverview Drive and rebuild on that site.

The extension of the lease was not a surprise as council members expressed support for the women’s shelter when representatives of the Family Support Centre appeared before council on June 5 to ask for the extension.

“Your organization is very important to the community and the South Slave,” said Coun. Steve Anderson.

At the June 5 meeting, Kristine Vannebo-Suwala, executive director of the Family Support Centre, told council that the old building on Riverview Drive had deteriorated, and it is time for something new.

“The families in this community have a right to seek safety and comfort in a new, fresh, stronger, bolder house with more rooms, a sturdy roof and good plumbing,” she said.

At the temporary location on Woodland Drive, priorities were identified to complete renovations with new flooring in the basement, ceiling tiles, improved heating ventilation, upgraded lighting and slight electrical updates. The Family Support Centre paid a total of $12,500 for the renovations in 2017-2018.

“Despite our busy year relocating our shelter and the administration office space temporarily, we have continued to offer our crisis support and essential services to our communities,” Vannebo-Suwala said.

On June 5, Janet-Marie Fizer, the chair of the board of the Family Support Centre, noted fundraising for a new shelter was launched on May 26 with a goal of up to $3 million over three years.

“I can’t give you a signed document that says we’re going to be out of your house in three years because we’re going to have a new shelter built, because I don’t have that kind of commitment right now from anybody,” she told council.

Fizer noted the GNWT has said that, if the Family Support Centre can come up with 75 per cent of the funding, it would provide the remaining 25 per cent.

“That to us is a huge deal going forward,” she said.

Funding is already in place for the demolition of the building on Riverview Drive.

The hope is to replace that building with a 10-bedroom facility – with a capacity of 20 beds – allowing for office space and space for community programs.

The closed building on Riverview Drive was a five-bedroom facility, which was in operation since 1992.

In 2015-2016, the shelter helped 135 women and about 30 children.

The Family Support Centre – an independent non-governmental organization funded by the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority – will mark its 30th year of service in 2019.

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