Critical link missing in Syrian housing bid

Official organization needed to take the helm to move project ahead

Oak Bay News

Oak Bay council supports “in principle” using a municipally owned home on Hampshire Road to house Syrian refugee families, but awaits commitment of a suitable community group to officially come forward.

An ad hoc group, led by Jan Mears, proposed using it for temporary refugee housing for two years, but without a lead agency, the district can’t do much, staff told council March 14.

Mears said a community gathering of people would like to give the home get a facelift then potentially offer two different Syrian families one year of housing before they settle permanent roots. The work, Mears said, would be done by volunteers and in-kind donations, and suggest a $900 per month rental.

“It’s already a community movement,” Mears said, outlining the two-year proposal to use the municipally-owned house on Hampshire Road.

“My preference would be to see what we’re going to do with (the property) first and see if this fits in with that,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch.

The property is on council’s priority list, but the potential for temporary or affordable housing has not been mentioned. Until a few years ago it was a rental property. Council has yet to determine what to do with the land, though discussion surrounding it has included parking and parkland.

“I’m hoping you could see this as two years of support while you do that,” Mears said, noting Oak Bay bought the property more than 15 years ago.

Of major concern was the temporary aspect of the housing proposal. Two questions came to head on opposite ends of the spectrum: What if a family isn’t ready to move when their lease is up and what if they’re firmly ensconced in the community and can’t afford to remain?

“I would feel very responsible to make sure that next step is there,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. “It feels like a very big decision and a very big commitment.”

Staff would start working on the legal and administrative protocols once an established group comes forward to take the lead in the partnership, council decided. That would offer municipal staff more information and parameters on what the group could provide, and what Oak Bay would require.

Council stipulated that a group would need to ensure they could do the work prior to September.

“Unfortunately this isn’t as simple as saying ‘go’ and running with it,” Murdoch said.

They agreed to accept the proposal in principal, provided a suitable organization that would commit to remediate the site by September comes forward.  Several parameters staff may address in any forthcoming report, should the proposal proceed, could include a little backstory on the district’s work as a landlord.

“I would love to have a sense of how many we are already landlord for and how that works,” said Coun. Eric Zhelka.

Staff did not have that information at hand.

Count. Tom Croft also suggested he’d like to see some history of the building as well.

“So we understand what that asset is,” he said, and ensure there are no outstanding legal or moral obligations.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read