Affordable housing project for women and children fleeing violence proposed for northeast community

·3 min read

A new affordable transitional housing development for women and children in northeast Calgary is being proposed by the area's Sikh community, led by the Dashmesh Culture Centre.

The centre, which is also a prominent Sikh temple, is one the largest faith-based organizations in the city.

The organization purchased a piece of land from the city that was previously a fire hall in the community of Saddle Ridge, where it hopes to build next year.

A rendering shows a large multi-level building with housing and retail. The cost is being estimated at $11 million.

"It's important because we are here to help, especially through these difficult times," said Amanpreet Singh, president of the Dashmesh Culture Centre.

"We want to provide women a facility where they feel safe and proud until they get their life back on track."

Singh said the project would ensure vulnerable Calgarians, regardless of faith or background, have access to affordable transitional housing.

"The whole team is excited and we already have a lot of support in the community," Singh said.

Dan McGarvey/CBC
Dan McGarvey/CBC

Domestic violence and abuse can be an embarrassing and difficult topic to talk about, especially for immigrant women.

"This is an issue that needed to be addressed and I wanted to be a part of this and contribute because the community really needs this," said Jay Gill, a lawyer and member of the Sikh community, speaking at an event at the site where the project was announced.

"This is going to be that resource for them to turn where they're not fearing there'll be no cultural understanding or a language barrier."

Gill said many immigrant women often aren't aware what resources are available to them and having one in the heart of the community will help.

"Our community struggles significantly with domestic and family violence," said another Sikh community member Remneek Kaur.

Dan McGarvey/CBC
Dan McGarvey/CBC

"Having a facility that understands the background and the cultural barriers that prevent women from leaving such difficult situations can hopefully help give them that push and that help with the transition," Kaur said.

Kaur said there's a culture of silence and tolerance among South Asian women that makes it harder to seek help.

She said the proposed project all ties in with the Sikh concept of Seva, or selfless service, and prosperity for all.

"This is a very important project for the community. Whether it's single women or women with children who are facing challenges and need a safe place, Dashmesh Culture Centre have come forward with this really amazing project to support our community members in need," said Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal.

Chahal said there's still a lot of planning, design work and community engagement yet to happen but said the location is perfect, being close to amenities like a nearby shopping area, recreation centre and LRT station.

Amanpreet Singh said his organization is looking forward to engaging with local communities and hopefully completing the project within the next two years.