Timmins council commits money for refugees, Sudbury strikes immigration panel

Syrian refugees made it onto to agendas of city councils across northeastern Ontario this week, but each is taking a different approach to the crisis in Europe.
Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger speaks to the media. Sudbury city council is responding to the Syrian refugee crisis by creating an advisory panel. Bigger says the committee will help co-ordinate community efforts to bring refugees to Sudbury. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Syrian refugees made it onto to agendas of city councils across northeastern Ontario this week, but each is taking a different approach to the crisis in Europe.

In Timmins, a plan was struck on Monday night to raise about $30,000 to bring a refugee family to the city.

After a motion tabled by councillor Pat Bamford, Timmins pledged to match any donations from local citizens and businesses up to $15,000.

"It may be cliché, but this is what puts the heart in the city with the heart of gold, so I do support this initiative," said Timmins city councillor Andrew Marks.

Sudbury aims to bring community together

In Sudbury on Tuesday night, council voted unanimously to create an advisory panel on refugees and immigration.

The idea was tabled by Mayor Brian Bigger, who says the city has a policy against spending tax dollars on international causes, but feels the city can play a facilitating role for those willing to make donations.

"[There are] plenty of people within the community — community groups, faith groups, schools — that would like to make contributions. So, our role is in bringing the community together," he said.

In Sault Ste. Marie, a discussion on Monday night about how to boost the city's sagging population through immigration lead to talk about the refugee crisis.

City councillor Matthew Shoemaker argued that sponsoring refugees is a way to help the city grow, while helping those in need.

"Perhaps we can be both strategic and compassionate and help out people who will in turn, help us out ten fold," he said.

Sault city councillors will take part in another meeting this week to specifically discuss how the city can help the Syrian refugees.

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