YWCA Banff hosted a gathering of community members on September 25th, 2018 to find out their thoughts on the Bow Valley Higher Ground Project. The design lab was aimed at having conversations to create a housing and service delivery model. The core of the social wellness hub will be a family emergency shelter, surrounded by wrap-around services in collaboration with other agencies in the area. The vision for Higher Ground project is to have a multi-use community centre in Canmore, where individuals and families can seek help at any phase of their recovery from barriers to housing and associated vulnerabilities.

Following in-depth research of current innovations in shelter, affordable housing, and violence prevention practice by Dr. Alina Turner, Dr. Sarah Fotheringham, and Lana Wells, the YWCA was eager to hear input from the Bow Valley community on the project’s plans and progress.Participants of the Design Lab addressed the need for a Hub that breaks down stigma surrounding domestic and sexual violence and related issues, and that strengthens community connections for all residents. “We were thrilled to see the enthusiasm for bringing a social wellness Hub to Canmore,” reflects Reave MacLeod, Director of Programs at the YWCA. “Having a sanctuary for healing where residents can seek help for their vulnerabilities and deepen their ties to community will have a significant impact on the entire Bow Valley.”

The YWCA will use the findings from the over 70 community members who attended the consultation, to guide next steps including business planning and program design, establishing partnerships, securing funding, and acquiring land. Thanks to the creativity and commitment of those who participated in the consultation, the YWCA is confident in its capacity to develop a Hub that will foster long-term wellness for all Bow Valley residents.