British Columbia

Vancouver Park Board looks to house Syrian refugees in caretaker cottages

The Vancouver Park Board deferred a motion to have a number of old caretaker cottages converted into housing for refugees, on Monday night.

Three caretaker cottages have the basic amenities needed to house a couple or small family.

This cottage in Vancouver's Riley Park could be used to house Syrian refugees. (CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board is investigating a proposal to use a number of old caretaker cottages to house Syrian refugees.

There are 71 such buildings in parks all across Vancouver. Some are still used as homes for caretakers, but most are used mainly by artists and sports groups.

Commissioner Catherine Evans, who put forward the motion, says at least three of the cottages have the basic amenities needed to house a couple or small family until they find something more permanent.

"In our city we have a particularly hard time finding housing for the refugees because of the very, very low vacancy rate," said Evans.

She said many people have already volunteered to provide time and furniture to prepare the cottages for refugees.

At the meeting on Monday night, the board made no decision on whether to house refugees in caretaker cottages

Instead it decided to have staff look at all the ways it could be supportive to the incoming refugee population, such using community centres to help prepare meals or hold events to welcome refugees. Staff will also examine whether cottages can be used as temporary housing.

The board also elected a new chair last night. NPA Park Board Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung will serve as chair for the next year.