Municipal home on Hampshire eyed for Syrian housing

Hampshire Street property originally purchased for parking lot

In a bid to open community dialogue, former Oak Bay councillor Cairine Green asked council to explore options to provide temporary and/or transitional housing to Syrian refugee families seeking to settle in the municipality.

During last week’s committee of the whole meeting, Green called for a mayor’s task force or leadership team and a municipal staff report to outline what housing options, if any, are available, such as vacant legal in-law accommodation, vacant rental housing and the municipally owned house at 1531 Hampshire Rd.

“If we don’t ask the question of the community we won’t know what the answer is,” Green said. “It could be used as transitional housing.”

The suggestion quickly became about more than hosting Syrian refugee families.

“It’s on everyone’s mind and we’d all like to do our part, we just don’t know how,”  said Coun. Michelle Kirby, adding there are concerns in the community, reflected in the official community plan, about a need for affordable housing in general. “This is a bigger issue and I would not like to see this set aside as a special project.”

Housing should be at the forefront in 2016, she said, not only for refugee families “but the vulnerable people that exist already in our community.”

Coun. Tara Ney agreed Green’s suggestion was innovative.

“The amount of support and willingness to host Syrian families in their community and Greater Victoria is enormous. One of the biggest barriers is housing,” Ney said.

“This could be a wonderful opportunity for our community to do good works,” agreed Coun. Eric Zhelka, adding he’s in favour of moving forward in some capacity with the Hampshire Road home as it’s been “derelict so long.”

During his inaugural speech after the November 2014 election, Mayor Nils Jensen mentioned 1531 Hampshire, suggesting it would see a resolution in the four-year term.

Key is to decide what they should do with the land, as ideas bandied about previously ranged from parking lot to park. The lot was originally purchased for parking. “There’s a myriad of ideas out there,” Jensen said. “Until we have something concrete we’re talking lofty ideas.”

Coun. Kevin Murdoch agreed with Kirby’s assertion infill housing and other affordable alternatives are on the agenda for this year.

“I think we’re all in support of finding ways of helping,” he said. “(However) we have to decide if we’re going to turn it into a parking lot or a park … we need to determine the fate of that property.”

Murdoch said it was a challenge to support renovations to the home to bring it up to liveable standards without a clear idea of what’s needed in the way of housing for Syrian refugee families.

“We do have to make a solid decision on that (property),” said Coun. Hazel Braithwaite.

Braithwaite is a member of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria that helps individuals and organizations connect across cultures. They currently have 45 people representing all aspects of the community and levels of government working on both private and government-sponsored Syrian refugee files. Braithwaite later confirmed money to top up rents would be most helpful at this point to help house any refugees.

 

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

Just Posted

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

Construction in Oak Bay is nearly all focused on rebuilding new single-family homes and without secondary suites. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay nears regulation of secondary suites

Preliminary report hints there’s no preferred option

NEW CUTLINE Pacific FC fans fill the stands during a game at the former Westhills Stadium
 Starlight Developments has purchased the naming rights from the City of Langford for the next 10 years.(Gazette file photo)

Pacific FC slid into third place in the league after defeating FC Edmonton 1-0 at Westhills Stadium on Saturday. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Langford sells stadium naming rights for $500,000 to Starlight Developments

10-year sponsorship deal largest in the history of Langford, says mayor

A 45-metre tall call tower is proposed for Westhills Stadium. (Black Press Media file photo)
New cell tower proposed for Westhills Stadium in Langford

Tower will increase capacity in congested network: staff report

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bastion Square attack leaves victim with life-altering injuries

Victoria police looking for witnesses, information

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Heather Lucier, a pastor at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship, speaks to an RCMP officer outside of Harvest Ministries on Sunday, Jan. 10. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna church fined 2nd time for violating public health order

Harvest Ministries in Kelowna has previously said they will fight the tickets in court

Most Read