Cochrane’s Big Hill Haven women’s shelter asked town council Monday night to keep their eyes open for any available land that might become available.
Shelter board member Debbie Leah made a presentation to council that outlined the non-profit organization’s mandate, fundraising initiatives and their hopes for a standalone structure that could house all of their services under one roof.
Leah pointed to a shelter that is under construction in the community of Morinville, north of Edmonton. The shelter- called Jessie’s House - will service a smaller population and will cost $1.6 million not including the cost of land. Leah said her organization is willing to foot the bill to build a similarly sized shelter, but would like the town to help them with acquiring land.
Since the organization’s inception in 2016, they have raised $250K through fundraising initiatives.
Coun. Susan Flowers praised the organization for their hard work and fundraising efforts.
“We will keep our eyes open and we hope to be partners in the future,” Flowers said.
The recent release of the provincial government budget has hit organizations like the shelter hard. Leah said the shelter is just finding out what the budget will have in store for them.
“Like any other social services we’re looking at options,” Leah said.
“It’s a scary time for us right now.”
Leah provided statistics at Monday's meeting. She said the town of Cochrane has seen a 71 per cent increase in domestic violence related calls to the Cochrane RCMP in 2018.
“I was shocked at the stats of Cochrane families and women who need this service,” said Mayor Jeff Genung Monday night.
November is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. The organization’s long term goals are to provide a safe place and outreach for women with or without children who are leaving domestic violence; operate a 24-hour confidential crisis line; provide advocacy, referrals and systems navigation including trauma. They also hope to be equipped to provide education, leadership and training on issues related to violence and abuse against women and children.
For more information on the organization visit: www.bighillhaven.com