Then Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen (right) David Lau, executive director, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (left) shake hands in 2018 to celebrate World Refugee Day with an official partnership announcement where two municipally-owned homes will be used for the regional refugee rehousing cause. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Refugee society celebrates near-completion of two ‘Welcome Houses’ in Oak Bay

Family living in one home, second under renovation

The Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) celebrated its Oak Bay Refugee Welcome Houses with a thanks to donors Tuesday.

“Every single contributor to the Welcome Houses has proven that they believe in a future that ensures that vulnerable newcomers who flee to the shores of Vancouver Island are properly welcomed, taken in and given a warm, safe space while they rest, rebuild and then relaunch with new hopes and dreams, ” said David Lau, VIRCS executive director.

RELATED: Victoria immigrant centre’s refugee housing lands in Oak Bay (video)

The District of Oak Bay, which purchased the homes as a strategic asset, agreed in early 2018 to lease them to VIRCS for transitional housing for vulnerable newcomer refugees with the provision that VIRCS undertake the required renovations. Dozens of businesses and over 100 community volunteers and trades provided donated materials and free labour to get the single-family home completed in July 2018. It now houses a refugee family, while work is underway on the larger home to be shared by different family groups.

A live-in staff member with VIRCS will coordinate the two homes. The Welcome Houses are the first of their kind in Greater Victoria.

B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin delivered the keynote speech during an event to honour businesses and volunteers that worked to renovate two homes in Oak Bay. The event at the Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel included music by Neil Osborne of 54.40.



c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

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