City of Red Deer land, with is home to a scouting cabin, is being considered for rezoning for a women’s shelter expansion. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer city council to discuss proposed rezoning for women’s shelter expansion

A city-owned lot next door would be needed for the project

The Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter can’t accommodate all the abused women who need a safe place to stay, so it is looking to expand into a largely empty city lot next door.

Red Deer city council will consider a request by shelter officials on Monday for a rezoning to accommodate a shelter expansion from 16 rooms to about 36 rooms. A project height of up to four storeys is being considered.

The proposal would also include a commercial space at street level for a business that could serve women’s centre clients. Some ideas for this space are a hairdresser, fitness centre, shoe repair, dry cleaning or laundry, veterinary clinic, financial or insurance outlet, private school or day care.

Council will discuss creating a direct control district for the existing women’s shelter’s double lot, as well as the city lot next door on 47th Avenue.

Administration is recommending the rezoning bylaws go to first reading.

Rayann Toner, executive director of the women’s shelter, said the goal is to keep the facility open to serve centre clients while construction is underway.

“Nothing is solidified yet, we are looking at our options…”

Last year, the Red Deer shelter received 2,008 crisis calls, but only had shelter spots for 513 women and 185 children in need. The rest were either referred to other shelters or connected with community supports.

“We never like having to turn anyone away,” added Toner, who expects a lot of fundraising will be needed, as well as grant applications.

“The board has recognized that we have capacity issues. We are interested in expanding, but we are only at the conceptual stage,” with no design plans or construction costs established, said Toner.

The city-owned lot needed for the expansion contains a deteriorating log cabin built in 1937 as a meeting hall for area scouts and rover patrols, but it has not been used since the 1980s.

A historic evaluation of the “scout hut” concluded no “character-defining” elements were left to make it historically significant, states a report to council.

Landowners within 100 metres of the cabin were asked to provide feedback on the proposed “rehabilitation” of the site and were evenly divided between those who support it, and those against investing municipal dollars on the property.

Of the nine responses received from 83 landowners, concerns were also expressed about parking, additional traffic and the impact on the view.

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