A lack of affordable housing has made it tough for BC’s resettlement agency to find homes for large Syrian families, but at least one innovative option appears to be off the table.
The Vancouver Park Board had suggested empty park caretaker cottages could be used as temporary housing for refugees, but Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung says staff have determined the space isn’t appropriate.
“The groups that are coming in are families, large groups often six to eight people, so from a physical space perspective they weren’t necessarily appropriate, nor were they furnished. There were a number of other concerns with the cottages that don’t make them ideal for temporary accommodations such as social isolation.”
Kirby-Yung says the board was also concerned about language issues linked to planting the families in the middle of a public park.
“There is obviously concerns about the fact that there is an expectation often caretakers who are in those cottages and interaction with the public, and they may not be equipped yet in terms of language ability.”
However Kirby-Yung says refugees can apply for the leisure access program, which provides low-income residents with access to recreation programs and facilities at a reduced cost.
Finding housing for the Lower Mainland’s share of Canada’s Syrian refugee population has proven to be a major challenge.
Earlier this month it was revealed that nearly 1,000 refugees were living in regional hotels, some of them for as long as two months.