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Ardmore resident proposes Safe Baby Haven Box to Cold Lake council

At the Jan. 23 City of Cold Lake council meeting, Mary Sara Robichaud, a resident of Ardmore, stood before council to present the idea of a Safe Baby Haven Box in Cold Lake.
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An Ardmore resident presents the concept of a Safe Baby Haven box to the Cold Lake City Council, hoping to bring a third box to Alberta.

COLD LAKE - At the Jan. 23 City of Cold Lake council meeting, Mary Sara Robichaud, a resident of Ardmore, stood before the council to present the idea of a Safe Baby Haven Box in Cold Lake that could potentially save the life of an abandoned infant.

Robichaud began her presentation by defining what a Safe Baby Haven Box is, drawing parallels to those commonly found in fire stations and hospitals across the United States and other countries. These boxes serve as anonymous and judgment-free spaces where individuals can leave infants they are unable or unwilling to care for.

"What a safe baby haven box is one of those boxes we see at fire stations and hospitals, more around the United States and other countries where you can put a baby in," explained Robichaud.

The primary objective of these boxes, she continued, is to reduce the alarming rate of child abandonment in North America. Typically equipped with two doors, one for placing the baby inside and another for retrieval, the box activates a silent alarm upon entry, notifying the nearest hospital, fire station, or police station.

"It's supposed to lower the amount of abandonment of children that you see a lot," emphasized Robichaud. "Normally, the longest a baby is there is five minutes at most." She further elaborated on the safety measures, stating, "There is a weight sensor that will set off all of the alarms when the baby is placed inside. If the baby is in there for longer than five minutes, there is normally a second alarm that will set off at the police station."

Addressing concerns about the anonymity of the process, Robichaud assured the council that the Safe Baby Haven Box is a judgment-free option for parents who find themselves unable to care for their newborns. The goal is to provide a safe and secure alternative to abandonment.

"Yes, it is considered safe, anonymous, and is also judgmental free, so a lot of people can go and bring their baby and leave," she affirmed.

Robichaud highlighted the current scarcity of these life-saving boxes in Canada, with only four in existence - two in Alberta and two in British Columbia. Given that Canada has over 8,000 cities, she stressed the need for more Safe Baby Haven Boxes to be installed.

Council engaged in a question-and-answer session following the presentation, with Coun. Chris Vining inquiring about the existing Safe Baby Haven Boxes in Alberta.

"The closest one would be in Edmonton at the Royal Alexandra Hospital," responded Robichaud.

Vining also asked about the potential costs associated with implementing such a program. Robichaud acknowledged that while the program itself is considered cost-free, the construction of the boxes could incur expenses, possibly totalling a couple of thousand dollars.

Coun. Bob Mattice questioned whether instances of infant abandonment had occurred in Cold Lake.

Coun. Adele Richardson, who is a site manager for the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre, responded, "Not that I am aware of to date."

Council expressed their commitment to thoroughly deliberating on Robichaud's proposal and said they will bring the matter up at an upcoming council meeting.

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Chantel Downes is a graduate of The King's University, with a passion for writing and storytelling. Originally from Edmonton, she received her degree in English and has a minor in communications.
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