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REPORTING · 26th November 2013
Walter McFarlane
Cheryl Rumley from Tamitik Status of Women came to present to Council on Monday, November 18th. She introduced herself and her program.

“We’ve worked in the community supporting social issues with a priority of working towards equality and also preventing violence against women,” said Rumley. “I want to talk about three things tonight, but I also want to thank Council for working in a really collaborative, coordinated and informed way. Those resources aren’t just monetary, they are people’s time.”

She stated she was going to share some insights and experiences while talking about her team’s programs, the pressures they have been experiencing and the Sixteen Days to End Gender Violence. She stated she was not going to present any statistics because statistics in her field are human beings.

“In terms of our programs, we have funding from BC Housing, we have funding from Ministry of Justice. We have funding through the Community Foundation through the ACT Telethon. We have private donations, we have funding through the CAW’s Social Justice Fund and I’ve outlined in my communication, the generosity of our community in $40,000 of in-kind donations, food and furniture,” said Rumley.

She introduced Dorothy Miller who runs the Transition House. Rumley explained their capacity was at 184% in October and they had to turn away several women and children.

“Right now, the transition house is running at either 40% full or over full capacity. We are funded for 8 beds so that’s what we get to feed 8 people in the house. When we go beyond that, we are not funded to feed,” said Rumley.

This is putting pressures on food, staffing and their ability to provide support. They have met with Shirley Bond about their problems. The last time their funding increased was four years ago.

Rumley explained the response which Tamitik Status of Women puts on is three-tiered: Prevention, Intervention and Crisis Response.

The second program which Rumley talked about was the outreach program, which provides support for women and their children at the transition house. It is run by Trish Lapointe. This helps women access safe affordable housing. They also put on healthy relationship workshops, working with men and women.

Rumley told Council there are programs which work with children and an anti-poverty program.

She requested Council continue the dialogue which helps them access the Social Impact Funding. They are at a point where they are trying to respond to the needs of the community. However, they are over capacity.

She went through the history of housing in the community, how it went from plenty of safe affordable housing in the 80s, to old housing stock in the 90s and finally to the low rent housing up to 2010 when the prices jumped.

She expressed having safe affordable housing was one way to maintain safety in the community. She stated there was an income disparity in Kitimat, where men make a living which is double the provincial average while women are earning an income lower than the provincial average, which is also below the cost of living in Kitimat.

“Although there are some great initiatives going on in our community right now, in terms of working in an integrated, coordinated, collaborative way, it’s why there’s a sense of urgency as well. In terms of next steps, there are some great strategies around senior’s housing and people with disabilities,” said Rumley.

She concluded the main part of her presentation stating how difficult it is to talk about affordable housing in the past when there is a high vacancy rate.

Mayor Monaghan stated she had good news. Prior to the meeting, she had received a phone call from someone who wants to build affordable housing in Kitimat. They will be getting together with Provincial workers who do this form of funding and they are looking at a non-profit organization to help this mystery person along.

Rumley stated that they were partnering with the schools to create an anti-bullying program. The final thing she did was put on a short skit with Randy Tait parodying victim blaming. The skit consisted of a man who was mugged talking with an individual about being mugged while the individual tried to justify the man being mugged.

Council had questions about the Transition House. Councillor Mary Murphy asked what happened to the people who were turned away. They are referred to Terrace. Rumley explained Kitimat is a dead end so women are migrating around the region. In fact, the closest community with affordable available housing is Prince George.

Councillor Edwin Empinado asked how long a woman could stay in the transition house. Rumley explained there are two programs, women and children can stay for 30 days and anyone could stay for a certain amount of time, as long as they are homeless. However, with no low income housing in Kitimat, both programs are seeing pressure.

Councillor Corinne Scott asked if they would try and move into a larger building. She was told they do not know at this time and this would be a better question for the executive director. However, it would take a zoning change and funding.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff thanked them for presenting and said it helps put the Councillors in the right mindset. He stated they needed the help from the government and the help is not coming. They need to continue to meet with the ministers and ask for help cover the social aspects of the growth which will benefit the province.

Rumley’s letter turned up later in the meeting with a request to meet with Council to discuss funding. Councillor Corinne Scott asked if that is what they just had. Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to have staff and Council meet with Tamitik Status of Woman to further discuss the issues which were raised.

The motion was called and carried.