Melfort, Sask., shelter offers safe haven from domestic violence

A newly-opened emergency shelter in Melfort, Sask., is providing women and children a safe place to go when facing domestic violence.

Facility has been open for clients since June

A shelter in Melfort, Sask., will provide a safe home for victims of domestic violence. (Government of Saskatchewan/Submitted to CBC)

A 16-bed shelter for women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence officially opened in Melfort, Sask., Thursday.

The facility has already been home to clients, after being licensed in June, and officials said it has been operating at about 88 per cent capacity since then.

We are proud to say we are doing our part.- Louise Schweitzer

Details about the Melfort shelter were provided in a news release which noted that construction began in the spring of 2014 and was expected to be complete by April 2015. An accidental fire, on Nov. 30, 2014, changed that timeline.

Funding for the facility was provided by various levels of government and a number of community partners. The project was led by North East Outreach and Support Services Inc. (NEOSS).

"They say it takes a community to raise a child and the community of the north east has truly shown its commitment to our children," Louise Schweitzer, executive director of NEOSS, said in a statement. The shelter will provide a safe space for people in the community of Melfort and the surrounding area including Nipawin, Tisdale and Hudson Bay.

"Each day we have the opportunity to change the life of someone in a better way and we are proud to say we are doing our part," Schweitzer added.

Local solutions important, Goodale says

A number of dignitaries took part in the Thursday event and spoke about the value of having such supports in the community.

"Our government recognizes the need for local solutions to housing challenges for victims of domestic violence," Ralph Goodale, a cabinet minister in the federal Liberal government said. 

There are seven bedrooms in the shelter, as well as a kitchen and a dining room in common areas. There is also a play area and office space for counsellors, outreach programs, social services workers and a shelter manager.

"This shelter will play a vital role in Melfort and the surrounding area and, most importantly, provide a safe haven for women and children who are experiencing interpersonal violence and abuse," Kevin Phillips, the MLA for Melfort, said. "While we regret that domestic violence shelters are necessary, we are pleased to be a part of this very important initiative."

The City of Melfort was also expressed support for the facility.

"We are extremely pleased to be part of the official opening of this much needed facility in our community and [the area]," Mayor Rick Lang said. "The fact that there is a need for a facility such as this is unfortunate and that is why the City of Melfort has always been supportive of this initiative."

Financial support from government

Funding for the building was providing through a combination of government grants and a mortgage, as well funds raised by NEOSS.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice also contributed funds for the development of programing and is supporting the shelter with operational funding.

The facility is 7,350 square feet, or 683 square metres, including both the shelter area and office space.