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Saskatoon YWCA proposing 18-unit dwelling to meet demand

The YWCA currently houses 54 women and children, with 34 beds or units for temporary stay and 14 women and six youth who stay long term. . Global News File

Saskatoon municipal planning commission has passed on a report to city council to consider a zoning amendment to the current location of Saskatoon YWCA.

According to a city report, the proposed change to the zoning agreement will allow for a new addition to be built, containing 18 dwelling units.

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YWCA CEO Cara Bahr told Global News the board has had a desire to expand for over the last few years to meet demand.

“We’re turning away between 175 and 250 women and children a month. That just doesn’t feel like we’re doing the best job we can to meet community need,” Bahr said.

The units will be used to house women and children in need of a home for various reasons, such as fleeing trauma or violence.

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The building is proposed as two floors to be built above the parking lot on the east side of the property.

The YWCA will operate the building and staff it at all times, “providing inclusive wrap-around support for residents of the dwelling units.”

Bahr said that each unit will have its own kitchen, bedrooms, and bathroom.

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There will also be communal programming space, laundry facilities, and play places for children.

The YWCA offers 24/7 counselling support staff, and other programs that help women and children such as life skills, play programming, mental health and addictions counselling.

The YWCA currently houses 54 women and children, with 34 beds or units for temporary stay and 14 women and six youth who stay long term.

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Bahr said the proposed units should help with the YWCA’s waitlist.

“I think what’s really unique about this proposed development is that there’s longer term supportive housing for those families in particular,” Bahr said.

“I think that will actually cut down quite significantly on our wait list because often we can’t house larger families.”

The existing zoning agreement allows for office, institutional, recreational and community uses at this location.

It also allows for residential uses but is limited to boarding apartment and hostel units.

Brett McAdam, senior planner with the City of Saskatoon, told members of the meeting Tuesday that the existing zoning agreement allows for the uses on the site that reflect services currently offered at the YWCA.

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McAdam said notifications of this application were mailed to 378 property owners located within approximately 150 metres of the site.

City Park Community Association was also notified about the application.

Bahr said when the building will be constructed depends on securing funding and capital. The YWCA would like to start the roughly four-month long planning stage in fall.

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From there, Bahr said it should take about eight months to build.

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