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Airdrie's first women's shelter facing delays

Airdrie P.O.W.E.R.’s (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources) plans of bringing Airdrie’s first women’s day shelter to the city has hit a snag, and it comes with a hefty price tag.
Much-needed amenity
Airdrie P.O.W.E.R is working to bring the first women’s day shelter to Airdrie. The house where the shelter will be located requires extensive renovations and upgrades.

Airdrie P.O.W.E.R.’s (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources) plans of bringing Airdrie’s first women’s day shelter to the city has hit a snag, and it comes with a hefty price tag.

According to the non-profit society, construction and building code issues at the shelter’s future home, located in Airdrie’s downtown, have led to unexpected setbacks.

“We received access to [the house] on March 1,” said Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. board member Tim Callaway. “As a result of [an inspection], we learned there are a number of upgrades required, due to changing building codes, that are necessary to make the place secure.”

The issues range from requiring a wider staircases to replacing electrical wiring and drywall.

While the original opening date was expected to be this month, Callaway said the set opening will be delayed by at least a few months.

“Obviously, we’re hoping it’s going to be sooner rather than later,” he said.

“Because of the nature of the things that have to be done, and because a lot of what we’re getting is volunteer support from contractors, it’s really difficult to put a firm date on when we hope it’s ready to go.”

The price tag for the necessary upgrades is expected to be between $75,000 and $125,000, according to Callaway. To help raise the funds, Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. has started a GoFundMe campaign asking for the community’s support. As of April 24, the campaign has raised $2,720.

The organization describes the day shelter as a bridge between informal supports (friends and family) and formal supports (police, community agencies), and provides step by step guidance for each person’s unique situation.

“It is not a formal overnight shelter, but is a safe haven to escape for a few hours to make plans and make connections,” the Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. website states, adding the facility will be the first of its kind in North America.

Callaway said the response from the community to has been encouraging.

“We’re trying to get the word out as best we can, by word of mouth and social media,” he said.

“We’re applying for various grants, some of which were put on hold as soon as the provincial election was called, so we may have to start from scratch again on that.”

Once the day shelter is complete, Airdrie P.O.W.E.R.’s facility will be the city’s first official refuge for women fleeing violent relationships. It’s a much-needed amenity for the community, according to the non-profit.

In May 2017, a report to Airdrie City council indicated domestic violence rates in the city were four times higher than the provincial average.

Callaway said the issue goes back further than 2017. Having moved to Airdrie in 2003, he said the city’s reputation as a hotbed for domestic violence was already in place.

“When I made the decision to come to Airdrie, a number of colleagues and acquaintances came to me and said, ‘Oh, that’s the town where there’s a lot of domestic violence,’” Callaway said.

“There had been some kind of article in one of the major papers in which a survey had been done in the satellite communities around Calgary…and Airdrie had surfaced as the place with the highest degree of a number of social ills, including domestic violence.”

Considering the city’s population growth since 2003, Callaway said it’s imperative to bring the women’s shelter to the community.

“Now you have three times the population [of 2003], and where you have people, you have all the social ills related to society,” he said.

“If that was the situation 15 or 16 years ago, with the increase in population, there’s going to be a reciprocal increase of all the social issues.”

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