The Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter is doing soil testing in preparation for a planned expansion.
On Thursday, Wade Martens, land co-ordinator for the City of Red Deer said the large trucks seen coming and going from the Scout hut lot, next to the 47th Avenue women’s shelter this week, are needed for soil testing, as well as checking the stability of the river bank.
While the historic scout hut needs to be dismantled before construction on the shelter expansion begins, Martens said there’s no timeline yet for this.
The shelter’s executive director, Danica Hoffart, has, so far, not confirmed dates around the expansion. The non-profit had been waiting to see whether government grants were approved.
In 2020, Red Deer city council approved a zoning change that would allow for the expansion of the shelter to gain capacity.
Former shelter director Rayann Toner had told council in 2020 that the shelter is “stretched beyond our limit,” having to turn away 1,500 women and children in 2019.
Between January and May 2022, twice as many women and children were being turned away as were in the first quarter of 2021.
City council was also told in 2020 that the plan was to increase the shelter’s capacity to 48 beds from the current 40, and to create 12 transition housing units to help women become more independent after leaving the shelter. An ability to reconfigure bedroom space through movable walls would allow for more families to stay there.
In 2021, the next-door parcel of formerly city-owned land containing the Scout hut was purchased by the non-profit Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter as more space was needed for the expansion.
Martens believes geological test results, as well as more financing, need to be in place before the shelter can apply to the city for development approval.