Benjamin Miskuski appeared before the council on July 13 regular council meeting to announce his intent to turn the hotel in Delia into a safe house for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
Miskuski wanted to clear up any allegations and rumours about the space being a safe injection site or halfway house.
He assures the community and council that it is definitely not the case.
“There won’t be metal tables and it won’t be a safe injection site.” says Miskuski. “…It’s more of a sanctuary. More like a human centre than anything else.”
With over 17 years of experience doing social work, Miskuski plans to create safe space for residents of rural Alberta in Delia.
He has plans to transform the hotel into an area that has social programming with the former bar area of the hotel offering first aid and babysitting courses with the inclusion of a greenhouse and communal garden located behind the hotel.
Miskuski plans to have locals to staff the safe house and does not plan to bring in workers who are not residents of Delia.
The building will be staffed 24 hours a day, have security cameras and reinforced doors in the event an abuser travels to the site.
The safe house will accept women, children and pets.
Miskuski does not want any barriers that would prevent people from accessing their services.
It will hold a maximum of 15 people who can stay for as long as their circumstances require.
He will offer social programming and employment skills to assist victims.
It will serve people in Red Deer and the surrounding area.
According to Miskuski, there are currently no services available in the area that offer overnight shelter and accommodations.
Miskuski spoke with the RCMP and has been told that with this shelter is a space where residents of Drumheller can be sent in cases of domestic abuse.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Bill Wulff noted that in cases of domestic abuse in rural Alberta, RCMP can only refer residents to services in Calgary but they have to travel there themselves.
Like the previous welfare establishments that Miskuski has worked with, he intends to make sure that the area and building is in good condition and will integrate well with the community.
“I’ve seen some shelters run very poorly, and I know how bad they can get very quickly,” says Miskuski.
“That’s not going to happen in this community in any way, shape or form,” he assured council.
In the event the shelter spirals out of control, he noted his intent to cancel the lease.
He will also work with the community to ensure that this will not happen.
Over 90 per cent of domestic abuse cases go unreported. Miskuski hopes that this establishment brings more awareness to the issue.
Although the safe house has no name, Miskuski hopes the community will come up with a name for the establishment.
New public works foreman
Kurt Meyers, the new public works foreman was formally welcomed by council.
Meyers gave a quick introduction regarding his extensive professional experience and how he plans to contribute his skills to the residents of Delia.
As a former resident of Red Deer, Meyers moved with his family to Hanna and started on July 4.