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Future of Port Coquitlam Women's Centre uncertain
The women's resource centre in Port Coquitlam will be closed to the public for a month while management and staff determine the future of programs operating out of the rented bungalow on Mary Hill Road.
Tri-City Transitions which has operated the resource centre for more than 30 years is grappling with cuts to gaming funding on top of a gradual erosion of program funding, said executive director Carol Metz Murray.
"We need to have a look to see who we're serving and what we're providing," explained Metz Murray, who said the centre is operating with 75% less funding than it did a decade ago.
Programs such as Empowering Moms will continue to operate out of the bungalow at 2420 Mary Hill Road, and other groups will be allowed to use the space. But there will be no public hours, which means the drop-in, clothing bank, community kitchen and job search computers will be off-limits to dozens of women who use the services daily.
News of the closure has upset several women who use the drop-in for support as well as legal services, clothing, job search help and even diapers for those with babies. New immigrants, women on low income and women fleeing abuse are among those who use the drop-in to get support and referrals, said Chantale-Lyne Gosselin.
Gosselin, who visits the drop-in to use the computer to look for jobs, says the women are worried the program will close for good. "It's really a bad situation," Gosselin said.
She's working with other women and volunteers to see if something can be done to keep the women's centre open, including appealing to business women in the community to fundraise for the program. Those interested in helping out can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Metz-Murray said she understands the concerns but says a review is necessary to make sure the women's centre is sustainable and viable. Compounding the problem is the loss of a community coordinator, which means there is no staff person to run the drop-in centre, Metz Murray said.
Among the issues to be examined is whether the PoCo building, owned by the City of Port Coquitlam, is the best place for programs to serve all of the Trii-Cities.
"It's the responsibility of managing programs, in looking at what is the best...it's not easy to make those kinds of decisons, none of it is," she said, adding that decisions regarding the future of the women's centre should be known by the end of the month, with any changes introduced by April 1.