YWCA Regina faces $4.5M shortfall for new facility meant to help women and children

The new facility has been under construction since 2022.  (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)
The new facility has been under construction since 2022. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC - image credit)

The new YWCA facility in Regina, which is designed to support and empower vulnerable women and children, is facing a financial crunch as construction wraps up.

"We still have $4.5 million left to raise and 13 weeks until construction is complete," said YWCA Regina CEO Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen.

As time runs out, the organization is turning to the public for its final fundraising push.

"I believe that our community will pull through," she said.

Construction on the Kikaskihanaw Centre for Women and Families began in 2022.

Coomber-Bendtsen says the organization had budgeted for inflation, but the total inflationary costs were far beyond what they had anticipated.

The project was initially pegged at $54 million and, at the time of the sod-turning, was considered fully funded. However, total costs have risen to $70 million.

The YWCA says its shortfall has been tightened to just under $5 million from $16 million thanks to individual donors, corporate supporters and the City of Regina.

Province denies request for support

Coomber-Bendtsen says they asked the provincial government for help in its most recent budget, seeking $5 million in new funding on top of $6 million already provided.

"Unfortunately, that wasn't realized and so we are back in the community again, asking people to help us get to that finish line," Coomber-Bendtsen said. "We were very disappointed to know that this wasn't one of the priorities in the [provincial] March budget."

The province has not responded to CBC's request for information about why the funding request was denied.

Coomber-Bendtsen is holding onto hope that the remainder of the money needed will arrive on time.

"If it doesn't, we have some ability to be able to carry some of the funding through long-term mortgages, [but] it would significantly impact our ability to operate, which is of concern to us," Coomber-Bendtsen said.

The space includes 72 support housing spaces and 41 emergency shelter spaces for people fleeing domestic violence or facing homelessness. There will be two childcare centres in the building, as well as a community support hub, an outreach centre, a year-round sweat lodge, and a low-cost grocery store among other programs and services.

"Our intent here is to prevent women from entering into crisis, prevent them from needing shelter services," Coomber-Bendtse said.

The YWCA Regina said in 2022 that it serves more than 10,000 women and families a year, and that number is expected to double at the new centre.

The City of Regina donated the land for the space and the federal government provided $34 million in funding.

Coomber-Bendtsen says they've fundraised a total of $18.5 million for the facility from corporations and community members. Now they're hoping for a little more as construction nears completion.

The facility is being built at the former Victoria School site between Rae Street and Retallack Street, just south of 12th Avenue. It's set to open on Sept. 1, 2024.