British Columbia

Syrian refugees: Map shows locations for the 220 coming to B.C.

So far, British Columbians have applied to privately sponsor about 220 Syrian refugees, according to new numbers released by the federal government.

Largest groups of privately-sponsored refugees will settle in Vancouver and New Westminster

Syrian refugees arrive in Greece. (CBC)

So far, British Columbians have applied to privately sponsor about 220 Syrian refugees, according to new numbers released by the federal government. 

Privately-sponsored Syrian refugees could be settled in more than 100 communities across Canada, with Toronto and Quebec taking the bulk. 

While the decisions are not final, the government has released a map of 100 destination communities where private individuals or groups have applied to sponsor refugees.

Where will they settle?

The largest groups in B.C. will settle in Vancouver and New Westminster.

Privately-sponsored Syrian refugees are expected to settle in the B.C. communities marked by red dots. (Government of Canada)

Here is a list of how many privately-sponsored refugees B.C. communities can expect:

  • Vancouver: 54 
  • New Westminster: 49
  • Burnaby: 31
  • Coquitlam: 20
  • Surrey: 20
  • Richmond: 10
  • Victoria: 10
  • Kelowna: 9
  • Delta: 6
  • Prince George: 5
  • Langley: Less than 5
  • North Vancouver: Less than 5. 

B.C. numbers lower

According to the map, the Greater Toronto Area will take 2,600 privately sponsored refugees, Calgary will take 502, Edmonton will take 321.

Those cities are taking in more refugees than the whole province of B.C. The approximately 220 applications from B.C. are less than half the number of applications in the city of Calgary alone.

The Immigrant Services Society of B.C said the difference in numbers isn't a complete surprise, because the privately sponsored program focuses on family reunification.

"Given the fact that the Syrian community is relatively small ... it doesn't surprise us in the least," said the group's director Chris Friesen.  

But Friesen said those numbers will change when it comes to government-sponsored refugees, who often have no family at all here and are selected on the basis of vulnerability.

"The final destination of where Syrian government-assisted refugees will finally settle is highly determinate on basis of finding affordable permanent housing."

Friesen said he expects to learn in the coming days just how many government-sponsored refugees will be settling in B.C. 

However, immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who is advising groups that are considering private sponsorship, said Syrian refugees coming to B.C. might want to consider other Canadian communities.

"Vancouver as a primary destination for refugees doesn't make sense," he said last week. 

Kurland said the high cost of living in the city means integration could be difficult for refugees without family ties and support.

The province says it will fund five refugee response teams to proactively plan for the settlement of refugees. Teams will likely be stationed in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Okanagan and Cariboo, but that might change depending on where the refugees actually settle

With files from Farrah Merali


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