The Bow Valley region weaves through the Rocky Mountains and includes the communities of Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore, Exshaw, Kananaskis, Lac Des Arcs, and the Îyarhe/Stoney Nakoda Nation. Despite the beautiful surroundings of the mountains and perception of wealth in the area, the Bow Valley is not immune to the social challenges facing other communities across Canada. We continue to grapple with gender-based violence, poverty, mental health, addictions, inadequate housing, discrimination, and inequality.
Centred at our head office in Banff, the YWCA acts as a key social agency for the Bow Valley that works collaboratively with other community agencies to provide prevention programming and direct service delivery to support victims of sexual and domestic violence, abuse, and exploitation. The YWCA is also a leading provider of housing options for people experiencing homelessness and residents who face barriers to finding affordable accommodation in Banff.
We strive to develop made-in-Bow Valley solutions—offering programs that are suitable for local residents, that consider the resources available to us, and that respond to the unique community dynamics associated with one of Canada’s prominent tourism destinations. In response to a growing demand for support from our organization, we are developing two major capital projects—the Higher Ground Project for a new, purpose-built shelter in Canmore, and the Courtyard Affordable Housing Project. Scroll down to learn about how these innovative projects will enhance our capacity to provide comprehensive supports for Bow Valley residents now and into the future.
Our Vision: A thriving, equitable society
Our Mission: Shaping a safe and inclusive Bow Valley that empowers women and their community for a better future.
What do our vision and mission look like in action?
Bow Valley Women’s Emergency Shelter: The Bow Valley Women’s Emergency Shelter is a safe space for people who are fleeing domestic or sexual violence. We provide clients with confidential supportive counselling, assist with planning for next steps after leaving shelter, and help connect them with relevant referrals and appropriate community services. In 2018, we expanded and can now support up to two families or four single women in our shelter program.
“All the staff at the shelter were extremely kind, generous, helpful, understanding, and non-judgemental. It was so wonderful to have a clean, quiet, safe place to heal, but the thing I appreciate the most was having the counsellors to speak to. I learned a lot about relationships, safety, self-love, and lots of great, healthy techniques to get me through the hard times in my life…You truly changed my life for the better, now and for the future.” – Client testimonial, YWCA Banff
Bridge House Transitional Housing Program: The Bridge House Transitional Housing Program offers safe, secure, and affordable housing for individuals and their children seeking a more independent living arrangement after leaving emergency shelter or our outreach program. Bridge House includes ongoing, supportive counselling and intensive case management to assist individuals and families with housing, economic security and appropriate community connections. Bridge House can accommodate up to two families for a period of 12-24 months.
Outreach Counselling: Outreach counselling is offered in Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise and provides professional support for those who have experienced domestic or sexual violence, abuse, or harassment. We also provide consultations for professionals, family members, and friends who are seeking tools to support someone they know who may be in an abusive or unsafe relationship.
Sexual Violence Response Program: For the past three years, the YWCA has led, alongside local service providers and agencies, the Harmony Project—our coordinated, community response plan to sexualized assault with a focus on prevention. In January 2019, the Project officially launched the Sexual Violence Response Program to help survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse—and their support people—with emotional support and assistance navigating legal, medical and therapeutic services.
Community Education & Youth Programs: We offer a range of community education programs that promote a violence-free Bow Valley. These accessible programs for youth and adults empower and educate our community on healthy relationships and lifestyles, being an active bystander, and help educate on the spectrum of domestic and sexual violence.
“Such a great free opportunity for local women to connect with ourselves and others in a safe environment. Thank you!”
“Women’s Circle has helped me in so many ways. I couldn’t even imagine. I cannot wait for next time.”
– Participant testimonials, YWCA Women’s Circle, Spring 2019
Affordable Housing: We are a leading provider of temporary and permanent affordable housing in Banff, with 100 residents living on our site year-round. Our residences provide a secure furnished bedroom, private or shared bathrooms, and shared common facilities such as kitchens, lounges and television rooms. We offer co-ed residencies, as well as female-only accommodation to meet different needs. Due to high demand we will generally maintain a waiting list, with an average waiting time from 1-3 months based on seasonal demand.
The Courtyard Project will expand the inventory of affordable rental housing in Banff. The 33-unit, 3-story, cost-effective project will meet net-zero targets for energy efficiency and provide affordable, self-contained rental housing for up to 75 residents. The Courtyard will be ideal for women, new and extended families, individuals, and people with accessibility needs. Our goal is to create a thriving neighbourhood by offering suitable, affordable housing and relevant supports that together foster a sense of belonging, security and community pride. The estimated project cost is $9 million, with an occupancy goal of summer 2022.
The Higher Ground Project is our plan to bring a new, purpose-built facility to Canmore with a range of services that address domestic and sexual violence in the Bow Valley. Core programming will include crisis intervention; counselling; second stage shelter; transitional housing; community outreach; training and education programs; and supports and resources for children. Higher Ground will embrace a trauma-informed approach and be designed with the unique needs of our rural context in mind. We are currently seeking land for the project in Canmore and fine-tuning our business and program model.
How can you help? While a donation to support our day-to-day operations is always welcome and appreciated, we are currently looking for investment in three future-focused areas. We are committed to maximizing the impact of your donation; if you are interested in contributing to the following priorities, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about how your investment will support a thriving future for the YWCA.
1. Invest in the development of the Higher Ground Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing Project
Your donation will help us move forward in the next stages of developing this important project that will allow us to better meet the unique needs of our rural community. Specifically, your contribution will support our current priorities—securing land in Canmore for the facility and honing our business and program model.
2. Support us with developing our capacity as a trauma-informed organization
Make a donation to support our organization with building its capacity as a trauma-informed organization through training and development opportunities for our leadership team and staff. A trauma-informed practice framework is a top priority for our organization as we work towards building a new facility (Higher Ground) to ensure we can provide the best, most effective service for Bow Valley residents.
3. Help us develop a comprehensive technology strategy
We are focused on developing a strong, long-term plan to serve our community effectively now and into the future; this means embracing technology and its potential to streamline our operations. A donation to this area will support the development of a strategy to leverage technology to expand access to our programs and to better collaborate with other YWCAs and related agencies to optimize service delivery.
To support one of these areas, please e-mail us at [email protected]
Alternatively, you can click here to make a donation to one of our other areas of support.