Regina city council approves land gift for new YWCA facility

Lucy Eley Park and the old Victoria School site may be home to a new YWCA facility in Regina. Sean Lerat-Stetner/Global News

The Regina YWCA has received a land gift from the city to build a new Centre for Women and Families.

City council voted unanimously to gift 1915 and 1955 Retallack Street to the YWCA Wednesday night. The addresses are currently occupied by Lucy Eley Park and the old Victoria School site, which was demolished in 1958.

In a submission to city council, YWCA CEO Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen describes the proposed centre as a hub to serve women and families before, during and after a crisis.

“The community hub focus will really be designed around traditional Indigenous healing and ceremonies, so there’ll be a ceremonial space for the community and gathering space as well,” Coomber-Bendtsen said.

The future facility will also include childcare spaces. The expanded space will also allow for other community gatherings and office space for organizations like Regina’s Mobile Crisis Services.

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Coomber-Bendtsen added that their current facilities lack sufficient space to meet service demands.

The build is estimated at $35 million, and the YWCA is looking to secure $10 million from the province and $12 million from the federal government. The private fundraising goal is $5 million.

Coomber-Bendsten hopes to see provincial funding included in the province’s upcoming budget.

READ MORE: Saskatoon, Prince Albert YWCAs receive $1.4M to support victims of violence

The YWCA says a new facility will help them address capacity issues at current facilities. Their homeless shelter, My Aunt’s Place, turned away 2,000 women and children in 2017. Close to 1,000 women and children were turned away from their domestic violence shelter.

The centre would not include more beds, but would be designed to carry out a variety of preventative and harm reduction services.

Plans indicate the centre would also incorporate recreation facilities that are open to the community. Lucy Eley Park currently has playground equipment and a football field.

As a community hub, Coomber-Bendtsen said the YWCA plans to hold community consultations on the eventual design process.

“We want them to use that space, and we want them to be part of that community hub. It’s an incredibly important component of how we work with folks in vulnerable situations and in poverty,” Coomber-Bendtsen said.

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“It’ll be vital for us to work with the community in developing that space.”

The property on the 1900 block of Retallack Street is valued at just over $2 million. The YWCA pays a $1 per year lease fee for their current headquarters, 1940 McIntyre Street. If this is approved, the $1 per year lease would transfer to the future centre on Retallack.

The 1940 McIntyre property will be sold once the YWCA completes their eventual move.

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