Trades, volunteers sought for Hampshire house project

Prospective volunteers invited to The Oaks Saturday

Prospective volunteers and local tradespeople interested in helping get a local house ready for Syrian refugee families are invited to The Oaks Saturday.

The gathering meets at 5 p.m. April 30 at the Oak Bay Avenue restaurant, a chance for people to learn more about the project and what they can do help, explains Joe Blake, a member of the Community Association of Oak Bay.

“It’s a chance for everyone to get together, anybody who would like to get involved – we’re looking for volunteers,” Blake says.

The initiative revolves around a municipally owned house on Hampshire Street, which the association would like to see used – at least for two years – as a temporary home for Syrian refugee families. The two-bedroom, one bath home used to be rented but has stood empty for several years.

Proponents have approached Oak Bay council, asking the district to take on the initiative, supported by volunteer help.

Blake took a tour of the home last week and said he was pleased with its condition. While some areas need some attention, such as the chimney and front porch, “it could be moved into right now … The front porch is really the only critical thing that needs to be done.”

In addition to general community volunteers, Blake also encourages local tradespeople and businesses to come to Saturday’s meeting, including contractors, roofers, carpenters, painters and  chimney masons.

Building supplies such as paint or insulation would also be welcome, Blake says.

“To be involved in the community is reward (it itself),” Blake says.

To help fundraise for the project, the Community Association is planning a concert and silent auction May 14, also at The Oaks, Blake says.