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YWCA unveils preliminary building designs

CTV News Regina with Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen 25 July 2019

The YWCA held an information session on Wednesday night to gather feedback of the proposed $35 million dollar building in Regina’s Cathedral neighbourhood. The City of Regina also gave the parcel of land of Lucy Eley Park to the non-profit organization.

Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen, the CEO of YWCA Regina says it’s important to get ideas from the community they will be serving.

“Getting their advice around what kind of amenities are missing and what they’d like to see, I think only enhances our ability to build that community,” added Coomber-Bendtsen.

The meeting highlighted some of the building’s features, including residencies, community and picnic space, a café and a sweat lodge for ceremony. The facility will also house Mobile Crisis Services and Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan.

YWCA wants to make sure the building will not only benefit the women who are using the services but also the surrounding community.

“We’ll have a grocery store that will come in once or twice a week with affordable healthy options that anybody in the community can access. We’ll also have lots of pop-up services like the library for example, financial institutions, taxes and accountants doing some education sessions and all of that will be available to the community,” added Coomber-Bendtsen.

Michelle Vande Velde has lived in the Cathedral neighborhood for ten years. She calls YWCA’s move a “proactive” decision that will strengthen the community in the long run.

“I think this is really great. They’re going to get a new building and its really going to focus on young mothers, women in general and children. We need to get rid or judgement. We’re all living together and we need to be part of the solution,’ said Vande Velde.

Since 1995, Mobile Crisis Services will move out of Regina’s old fire hall and into YWCA’s building in Cathedral, a space double the size that will improve services for its clients. Mobile Crisis admits, it has grown out of its space and they’re looking forward to expanding. The facility will also be better suited to help those in need.

“Bring together services that are complimentary to each other and the reason for that is to really make it easier for clients. Right now, if I wanted to refer a client to the YWCA, it’s eight blocks away. If I refer them to the Sexual Assault Centre, it’s probably a mile and a half away. This way we get everything in one place,” said Jan Thorson, Assistant Executive Director of Mobile Crisis.

YWCA plans to have construction begin in the Fall of 2020. Discussions are still underway with the federal and provincial government to secure funding.

“This will also give people in north central better access to us. We have been in this space for almost 25 years. The city has grown a lot, Cathedral is a better fit for us because there’s better access from all areas of the city, particularly for people who have transportation issues,” said Thorson.