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Isolation rooms offered by YWCA Banff to help vulnerable in community

“We recognize in the community that there would be limited opportunities for people in shared housing for isolation if needed."
The Banff YWCA building. RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – YWCA Banff is working with the Town of Banff to provide a limited number of safe isolation rooms for community residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connie MacDonald, CEO of Banff YWCA, said the organization has been working with the Town of Banff to make this happen, noting some isolation rooms opened up last week given the temporary closure of the Y’s hotel.

“We recognize in the community that there would be limited opportunities for people in shared housing for isolation if needed,” said MacDonald.

“One of our goals now is to support people who are more vulnerable and in need of that sort of space.”

Those in the community who may need isolation space are asked to contact the Town of Banff’s emergency coordination centre at

MacDonald said rooms are equipped with appliances such as fridges, crock pots and kettles “to help people be more successful in self-isolation.”

“We don’t have a ton of them and we wish we had more,” she said. “But if we can help, we are definitely wanting to be doing that, and the Town has been great in supporting us.”

MacDonald said many people live in situations where they can self-isolate, but there are many circumstances in which this is too difficult or next to impossible to do.

“With some of the shared housing, and ways things are set up with so many people who have lost their jobs, they’re not always living in the best locations to support isolation,” she said.

“A room could also be potentially for a parent that maybe has kids and a relative at home, and maybe living in a small space where it’s impossible to self-isolate.”

Last week, Banff YWCA suspended its hotel operations in order to provide different sorts of housing needed during the coronavirus crisis.

MacDonald said that was a difficult decision given the hotel makes up 50 to 65 per cent of the Y’s revenue.

“We considered what is our core business and what do we need to be doing? And we know we have lots of experience in housing,” she said.

“There are other hotels that are operating at a partial level, but we found what we should be doing is flipping our inventory and providing more types of housing in the community.”

Available services at YWCA Banff include its emergency shelter for people fleeing domestic or sexual violence and its domestic and sexual violence outreach program providing counselling and information.

Project home, a short-term housing option with crisis support for Bow Valley residents, and the affordable housing residence for longer-term permanent residents are both services that are still running during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banff YWCA asks that if your immediate safety is at risk to please call 9-1-1.

“As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, our priority at the YWCA is to support Bow Valley community members in vulnerable times,” said MacDonald.

As of April 6, the number of cases in Alberta was 1,348, with a total of 24 deaths province-wide.

In the Banff region, which includes ID9 areas such as Lake Louise, there are two active cases. In the Canmore region, which includes some of the MD hamlets, there have been 13 confirmed cases. Nine are active and four have recovered.

The Bow Valley has not recorded any deaths.


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