By Chad Ingram
Feb. 7 2017
Haliburton County council is intending to fund a request the Peterborough Haliburton YWCA is making of it and its lower-tier townships for the continued operation of the women’s shelter in Minden.
The YWCA was forced to close the Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace (HERS) an emergency shelter for women and children suffering domestic violence for five months last year due to increased usage and lack of resources.
The organization recently launched a fundraising campaign seeking to raise $120000 to help keep the shelter open during the next two years and also conduct a sustainability study on providing services in rural areas.
As Peterborough Haliburton YWCA director of philanthropy and communications Jennifer Cureton told Minden Hills and Algonquin Highlands councils during recent visits the organization helped 124 individual women in Haliburton County last year fielded more than 1200 crisis calls and conducted some 670 outreach counsel sessions.
“We have a lot of families in poverty” she said of the county. “We see a lot of isolation and lack of transportation. There are a lot of hidden homeless here in Haliburton County.”
Cureton said some women stay with abusers exchanging sex and enduring abuse for food and shelter.
Cureton visited Minden Hills councillors during a Jan. 26 meeting and Algonquin Highlands councillors on Feb. 2. She was making what she said was a special one-time funding request of $5000 from each of the townships and was scheduled to visit Dysart et al and Highlands East councils with the same request.
Minden Hills council granted the request voting to allot $2500 from each of the 2017 and 2018 budgets to the cost. Algonquin Highlands councillors resolved to defer the request to their upcoming budget deliberations.
The YWCA request then came up at Feb. 3 Haliburton County council budget meeting with the organization requesting $5000 from the upper tier as well.
“To me social services has been built into the county budget and it should be a county responsibility” said Algonquin Highlands Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen. “I do not in any way want to take away from the importance of the problem or the request.”
Danielsen suggested that Minden Hills council reverse its decision and that rather than the lower tiers chipping in the county cover the request.
“You haven’t written a cheque” Danielsen said.
“In a perfect world the ask would have been here [the county council table]’” said Minden Hills Reeve and County Warden Brent Devolin. Devolin said he wasn’t sure whether the majority of Minden Hills council would support reversing the decision.
“The point is we can’t be double-dipping” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey adding the money should either be coming from the lower tiers or the upper tiers.
Fearrey Devolin and Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt have all expressed concern that the one-time request from the YWCA which is funded provincially might morph into an annual one.
Receiving 61 per cent of its funding from the province the Peterborough Haliburton YWCA fundraises the reminder of its costs and while money raised in Haliburton County stays in Haliburton County most of the money used locally is raised in Peterborough and transferred to Haliburton. Minden Hills Deputy-reeve Cheryl Murdoch said the closure of the shelter was something that could not be repeated.
“The fact is it was down for five months and hardly anybody knew” Murdoch said. “And that’s totally unacceptable. This can never happen again. I will never see that place go down again.”
With the requests from the county and its lower tiers combined the YWCA is seeking $25000 over two years.
“If your choice was to fund it all it would be $12500 [per year for two years]” said county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter.
“To me it makes more sense that it lives at the upper tier” said Moffatt.
“If it’s $12500 we can surely find it in a $22 million budget” said Fearrey.
Councillors directed the request be funded leaving them and staff to find the money in the budget.
The budget has not yet been approved.