Sept. 8th marked the launch of Bridge House, YWCA Banff’s latest project geared towards empowering women in the Bow Valley. The YWCA team and their partners at St. George in the Pines Anglican Church celebrated the achievement alongside community leaders, government representatives, church officials and the many local tradespeople who worked on the project. The Bridge House facilitates a critical next step for victims who are prepared to transition from emergency shelter into a supported, independent living arrangement.
The property features two dedicated living spaces for victims of violence exiting crisis shelter. Prior to the conception of Bridge House, the Bow Valley Women’s Emergency Shelter housed the region’s only dedicated space for women and their children fleeing violence. With the Bow Valley spanning from Kananaskis Village to Lake Louise – an area where over 30,000 permanent and non-permanent residents reside – the need for a greater capacity to support victims was clear.
The idea to create the Bridge House began after a suitable property became available for lease through the Anglican Diocese of Calgary and St. George-in-the-Pines Church in Banff. A lack of transitional options for victims of violence can lead women to return to abusive situations in favour of attempting to access suitable facilities and supports in other cities or towns far from home. The Bridge House will provide a safe and supportive environment for women and their children seeking a fresh start and a path to independence in their own community. In order to protect the privacy and dignity of those accessing the program, the exact location of the house will remain confidential.
The Bridge House would not have been possible without a grant from Alberta Community and Social Services and the generosity of a Bow Valley community that continues to help the YWCA drive positive change for its residents. From the overwhelming support of St. George-in-the-Pines, local contractors, government agencies and two Canmore families who donated their furniture to the project, Bridge House is a community solution that will have a lasting impact in the lives of many.