British Columbia

Refugee sponsors struggle to find available housing in Victoria

A group that is preparing to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Victoria is struggling to find somewhere for them to live thanks to a tight rental market.

Rental vacancy rate in B.C. capital is among the lowest in the country at 0.6 per cent

Doug MacDonald is part of a group that is sponsoring a Syrian refugee family, but they have struggled to find suitable rental housing in Victoria. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

A group that is preparing to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Victoria is struggling to find somewhere for them to live thanks to a tight rental market.

The rental vacancy rate in Victoria is among the lowest in the country at 0.6 per cent.

"We had an instinct that [housing] was going to be an issue. We didn't realize just how much," said Doug MacDonald, a member of a Victoria group sponsoring a couple with three children aged 5, 11 and 13.

MacDonald's group has raised nearly $30,000 to assist the family with living expense for their first year in Canada. Last week, they were informed that the family would arrive in Victoria by the end of the month.

That's when the scramble started to find an available and affordable, home.

"We have to be careful over the price limit because at the end of the year we don't want to leave them in a situation where they have large rent and high utilities to pay," MacDonald said.

The tight rental market is a challenge for all newcomers to the city, said Sabine Lehr, the immigrant services manager for the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria.

But with only privately sponsored families scheduled to come to the city at this point, rather than large numbers of government sponsored refugees, Lehr said she is confident housing will be found for everyone.

"Every month there will be a family or two coming, so this is obviously much easier to absorb and much easier to find suitable accommodation than it might be if there was a large number coming all at once," she said.

MacDonald's group has scoured the rental ads and contacted property management companies. He hopes landlords who do have available units will reach out to people who are sponsoring refugees.

"This situation is only going to get more tough as time goes on because certainly there will be more families arriving here in Victoria and they are going to need a place to live."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?