Women's shelter a corridor-wide concern | Squamish Chief

Women's shelter a corridor-wide concern

A few weeks ago, the Howe Sound Women's Centre Society called on the provincial government to address a crisis at Pearl's Place Transition House in Squamish. This safe house is the sole long-term shelter in the Sea to Sky for women and children. Give them what they need.

It's not only about money.

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In 2007 when the province increased funding to Pearl's Place, allowing for 24-hour on-site staffing. However, last year the society's mandate also broadened, requiring the charitable organization to help not just women in abusive relationships, but also women and children in unsafe housing. Women facing chronic homelessness, mental health issues and addiction were also referred to the transition house.

One would expect that Pearl's would offer its best possible assistance to any woman who walks through its doors. Unfortunately, some of those women are in a precarious state and in need of medical attention or counselling. It's hardly a safe environment for a woman and child escaping abuse.

It doesn't just create a potential risk for abused women and children, but also for the other women who are likely expecting a cushion of medical support if needed. But none exists. Pearl's Place is requesting funding to fill this important staffing need, to which the government should have smartened up long ago and supplied it.

Instead, Pearl's is another example of cuts to the health care system being off-loaded onto other, overburdened entities.

Pearl's Place is one of the smallest transition houses in the province, with six beds. They're asking for only two more to alleviate what we see as unreasonable, excessive pressure on a weakened organization in a town poised for rapid growth.

Two things can happen to improve the situation at Pearl's Place. One, retract the mandate that they must attend to women with such complex needs. The house would prefer to cater only to women and children in abusive relationships. They simply want the resources freed up to do what they were set up to do, and do that well.

Two, B.C. Housing and the Province of British Columbia heed the Howe Sound Women's Centre Society's call for emergency funding for two new bed spaces and personnel trained to care for the women being directed their way.

And yes, install a fully staffed transition house program in Whistler. It will relieve the pressure on Pearl's Place while encouraging women here to seek help when they need it, without piling on the additional anxiety of asking them to leave their jobs and uproot their children for 30 days in a distant safe house. Surely there must be a bit of money in provincial coffers for that.

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