Preparations are under way to welcome possibly thousands of Ukrainian refugees to B.C.
Premier John Horgan said earlier this month that his government is looking at housing options for a possible wave of refugees – off-season ski hill accommodations and student housing being options.
On the Coast, Gibsons’ Judy Rother is putting together a list of people who may have accommodation and who could take in refugees – on a short-term or a long-term basis.
People who may have space are asked to email Rother at firstname.lastname@example.org being sure to include their name and phone number in the message. At this point, no one is making a commitment, Rother stresses.
“Everything is fluid and moving and you don’t know, every day, exactly what is going to happen,” said Rother. “So, I thought the beginning thing was at least to get a list of possible accommodations.”
Canada has the largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine and Russia, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada will welcome an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees on two-year visas. The United Nations estimates that more than three million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded Feb. 24.
Rother has been in touch with folks pulling together a B.C.-wide list of accommodations for those who choose to come to Canada and to B.C.
This isn’t the first time Rother has been involved in resettling initiatives – she and a group of Coast residents were also involved in the Tibetan Resettlement Program, bringing stateless Tibetans from India to Canada, several years ago.
The new visa system put in place for Ukrainians escaping the war launched March 17. Some critics, however, are skeptical as to how well the program will work given that as of early March, only 8,580 of the 40,000 promised Afghan refugees had arrived in Canada since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last August.
– With files from Nicholas Johansen / Castanet