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Housing for battered women could be built into Langley Township firehalls

Similar to successful program in Vancouver
The Township of Langley Civic Facility. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley Township will look at building housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence into local firehalls.

A motion by Councillor Barb Martens, a former Vancouver Police officer, and Coun. Tim Baillie, a retired firefighter, called for a report on the possibility of building “second stage” housing into the firehalls in Walnut Grove and Brookswood.

Ishtar Women’s Resources Society has been campaigning for second stage housing for some time, asking council last year to help make the long-sought goal a reality.

Ishtar runs two shelters for women and their children fleeing violent and abusive domestic partners, with 22 beds in total. They’re meant to house victims for about 30 days, but there’s a severe lack of available spaces for them to move onto, especially with the soaring cost of rent in the Lower Mainland.

Second stage housing would allow for occupancy of up to 18 months, in more homelike apartments or townhouses, with support from counsellors and Ishtar staff.

Over the summer, Ishtar executive director Maureen Berlin called on the Township to help out, and earlier this year, she said that it looked like there would be progress soon.

At the Jan. 30 council meeting, Baillie and Martens put forward a proposal that has been used in Vancouver.

She and Baillie recently toured Firehall 5 in Vancouver, which has an integrated second stage housing unit.

“We would like to duplicate this successful model in Langley,” Martens said.

Township staff were asked to come back with a report on the two firehalls as well as other options for second stage housing locally.

Coun. Kim Richter suggested an amendment, asking for some more info in the report, including on the source of funding, whether money can be obtained from provincial or federal coffers, and whether the projects will only be used by Township residents.

The council passed the amendment, and the request for a report, unanimously.

READ MORE: Second stage housing for women and children will be opened in Langley, society says

READ MORE: Ishtar seeks Langley Township help to secure more housing

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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