A New Way to Welcome Refugees to Vancouver

The Welcome House is scheduled to open June 2016 at 2610 Victoria Drive.

October 22, 2015

/ Photo: Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia

It was a visceral, sickening last week of summer. Images of Alan Kurdi’s tiny body weaved with early election partisan blame games over Canada’s reluctance to act quickly on the Syrian refugee crisis. It forced Stephen Harper from his script and became a breakthrough election issue.

Amid this current, Vancouver-based Immigrant Services Society of BC is setting the compassionate standard for refugees. Welcome House—currently a construction site near Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station—is planning to open in June as a 58,000-sq.-ft. service hub that will streamline transitional housing and targeted services under one roof. The $24.5-million facility will contain housing units (up to 138 beds), a health clinic, licensed child care, a family resource centre, and so much more.

During a walk-through of the Gold LEED facility—designed by Henriquez Partners Architects and Terra Housing—visitors, many who arrived in Vancouver as refugees, welled up when they learned that more than half of the construction workers on-site had themselves arrived in Canada as refugees.

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