Qualicum Beach getting ready for Syrian refugee family

Group and town still negotiating terms of the use of town-owned house

The Qualicum Refugee Support Group is almost ready and are waiting for what could be a sudden announcement.

“We’re in the hurry up and wait stage, and we’re very busy,” said QRSG co-chair Carol Doering.

She said they are so close to final approval to use a town-owned house to host a Syrian Refugee family in Qualicum Beach, that they have been given access to begin work while they wait for the formal vote from town council.

“We have had a lot of support from volunteers, we probably had 20 people at the house yesterday cleaning,” Doering said, adding that they had painted most of the interior and done a bunch of small repairs and things like power-washing the sidewalks for the first time in many years.

They still want to clean the carpets, do more painting and start working on the yard, she said.

“We have had a series of meetings with staff and individual councillors, and we seem to have their full support.”

Doering said the group doesn’t have  formal approval yet and admitting the group doesn’t have a back-up plan, since they formed mostly around the possibility of using the house which recently became available.

Town corporate administrator Heather Svensen could only confirm that “we are still negotiating.”

Doering said the federal government releases lists of possible refugee families every two weeks and the Anglican Diocese of B.C., which is the group’s required sponsorship agreement holder (SAH) eagerly requests specific families, then the individual Vancouver Island groups like their own find out if they were matched with a family.

She said last week the diocese requested six and only got two, so it’s just a waiting game.

Once they get a family it could take anywhere from a couple weeks to get a “travel ready” family, up to several months if they still have to wait for them to complete the medical and security screening.

There are currently at least 15 private sponsorship efforts like this one, separate from the government sponsored efforts, in the mid-Island, including two others in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

One is through the Church of the Ascension Refugee Sponsorship Committee (250-954-1991) in Parksville, in line to get a young Syrian couple with a baby any day and the other through the Qualicum Community Baptist Church (250-752-9123) hoping to get two non-Syrian refugees soon.

For more information or to get involved with the QRSG effort e-mail qualicumrsg@telus.net. To donate contact Ramsay Farran at ramsayferran@gmail.com or 250-974-7031. Those who donate $100 or more can receive tax receipts.

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