Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced in Picton, Ont., on Friday that hundreds of thousands of dollars will be invested in a new women’s emergency shelter in the county.
Smith, also minister of children, community and social services, along with Jill Dunlop, associate minister of children and women’s issues, toured a new facility for women escaping abuse.
It’s called Vi’s House, an extension of the Alternatives for Women organization. Smith announced the charity will receive $227,000 to finish the renovations on the newly purchased home.
“For over 30 years, Alternatives for Women has worked to reduce the need for its services and hoped to make them redundant,” says Smith. “That clearly hasn’t happened. … Domestic abuse and violence continue.”
Each year, about 20 women and their children find safe shelter in Prince Edward County, transitioning to a better situation.
“(But) nearly twice that many refused to go to emergency shelters — because that meant leaving their community,” said Smith.
Moreover, most women would have to leave without their children. The closest emergency shelter is in Belleville.
Alternatives for Women Vi’s House is Prince Edward County’s first emergency women’s shelter.
The two-storey building will provide four to five transitional live-in studio units, with onsite free counselling.
“The challenges with the rural aspect of where we are,” says Caroline Granger, chair of Alternatives for Women Vi’s House, “we needed to find a way to meet local needs in a local way.
“This project delivers that.”
“We are also going to run some life skills groups for the woman and have communal dinners for the women residing here,” says Leah Morgan, executive director for Alternatives for Women Vi’s House.
The organization cares for women and their children during a very vulnerable time — after they leave abusive situations.
“This will allow them to have a safe place in their community,” says Smith, “continue to work and get out of that dangerous situation.”
Vi’s House is named after the late original owner of the property, Violet Courtney, who was known in the area for taking in women and people in need.
Vi’s House is expected to be fully operational later this spring.