The Mayerthorpe Freelancer, January 1, 2019
Becky Wells, the executive director of Wellspring Family Crisis and Resource Centre (Wellspring), and Josh Bernard, with the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN), presented their progress with their affordable housing project to Whitecourt council at the scheduled meeting on Dec. 17.
Wellspring is the only women and children’s emergency shelter in Whitecourt, Alta. providing services such as “child support, community assistance, and intensive case management to the residents of Whitecourt and the surrounding area.”
In the past number of years, Wellspring recorded 1,139 crises calls. They are consistently at full capacity and must turn away more than 110 women and children every year.
The second-stage affordable housing project came to light in April 2018, when Wells presented the idea to local business owners in order to receive input and feedback.
“We have emergency shelters, which is step one. Three and four, is getting them back in the community, being successful but we’re missing step two,” Wells had said in a previous interview. “This is transitional housing or second-stage. We can’t go one to three.
Bernard explained that the proposed project will include a 37,762 sq. ft. facility with 34 residential units and two commercial spaces, a daycare and second-hand store. All the units will be constructed and designed the same.
“We want people to feel good about where they live, they’ll have that pride of ownership even if they’re only renting,” he said.
Wellspring has secured over $9-million in funding, including the $3.8-million from the provincial government they received in August 2018. Wellspring requires an additional $2,042,645 in funding for this project.
“Without the support of regional and municipal governments this project won’t break ground,” said Bernard. “The development is essential for Wellspring and the community.”
“We are looking for some financial aid,” said Wells. “When we go to other municipalities, it will look great to see that the Town is supporting us on this project.”
Wells and Bernard presented to Woodlands County on Dec. 4, making a similar request for financial assistance.
“We are so proud of what the Wellspring Family Shelter has accomplished,” said Woodlands County Mayor Jim Rennie. “We look forward in 2019 to working with close to a dozen neighbouring municipalities to find a funding formula as we all work together to assist the families that are in need of these services.”
Whitecourt Town council moved to hold off making final decisions until final budget deliberations in 2019. Until that time, administration will be working with Wellspring and ARDN in order to bring an request for decision of an appropriate amount to the policies and priorities committee for review.