Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Council approves rezoning for Crisis Centre

For the Lakeland Regional.

A local women’s shelter has passed a major hurdle in its efforts to construct a new building.
Cold Lake City Council approved a rezoning application by the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre at a special meeting on July 19.

The rezoning needed to be discussed by city council because it was listed as a direct control zone, which means that council has the final say in the zoning application process. The crisis centre society had requested permission to build a new outreach building on the property they own.

In accordance with the development bylaws, a public hearing was held. No one showed up to air grievances, although one citizen submitted a letter of protest citing concerns about parking affecting traffic in the area and the effects of social housing on homeowners. Council read the letter in the meeting and concluded that the new development largely solved the problems mentioned in the letter.
The new building will be used for administration and outreach, which are currently operating out of the same building as the shelter.

Originally, the rezoning proposal suggested placing 10 parking spots on the front side of the property. However, a few council members expressed concern about the parking spots disrupting the “single housing” nature of the neighborhood.

However, crisis centre executive director Susan White said that wouldn’t be a problem.
“I would prefer to break (the parking spots) up,” noted White.

In the end, council approved the rezoning application, but amended it to limit the development to six parking stalls.

The next step for the crisis centre is to submit an application for a building permit, which will not be held at the scrutiny of council. White estimated that she could have that done in a couple of weeks.

“We’ve already got the plans drawn. We’ve got the builders set up,” added White, who was overjoyed with the decision.

“This is going to take some of the administrative staff out of the shelter, which will give us more room for women and children,” explained White. “It will also allow our community support program to meet with clients not in the shelter, because often women and men who need our support but don’t actually need a bed. So this way we’ll be able to support more families without interrupting those staying in the shelter.”

According to White, the shelter housed about 329 women and children last year. The number of people assisted by the centre is considerably higher between outreach, the help line, and staff engaging with children in schools.

Mayor Craig Copeland was pleased council approved the rezoning and added that the city was behind the crisis centre 100 per cent. “They’re very crowded in their building and they have a lot of staff,” he said. “I’m very excited for them to be expanding.”

Copeland added, “When the centre comes and asks us for money, I don’t think they’ve been turned down. We support them as much as we can. They provide a great service for the City of Cold Lake and the surrounding area.”

The Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre opened in September of 1982, although it was not officially given its name until the society registered with the provincial government in 1993. Named after the 2006 Physician of the Century, the centre was established to provide women with a safe place to escape and recover from abusive homes.

The shelter is designed to house both women and their children, and features an on-site playground and in-house schooling. It is open to women throughout the Lakeland region. The outreach program has offices in both Cold Lake and Bonnyville.

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