Naramata refugee initiative

Members of a group trying to bring four Syrian refugee families to Naramata provided an update on those efforts to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Thursday.

Maureen Balcaen told RDOS directors about the work that has been done to date and how they continue to wait for word on when refugees will arrive.

"We think it will be soon, but we've been saying that for a while," she said. "It could be next week or it could be a month from now, we don't know."

Balcaen explained that her group, the Naramata Community Syrian Refugee Initiative, is made up of a core group of 10 volunteers committed to supporting the federal government's Syrian Refugee Initiative.

An application and documents were submitted to allow the resettling of up to four families of government assisted refugees.

The group held a community forum,lining up 100 volunteers and getting four housing units ready at the Naramata Centre property.

Balcaen told the board those units have been made available for a 12-month rental period and that prospects for longer term housing are being explored.

The group also intends to work closely with the Penticton and District Multicultural Society/South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, which provide a range of settlement and language support services to immigrants and refugees.

Following the presentation, directors explained what is being done to help Syrian families now residing in Osoyoos and Summerland.

For example, Penticton has transit and community centre passes it could offer, said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, adding staff are working on the matter. 

Information on the Naramata group's effort is available on their website.

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