Vancouver refugee centre 'first of its kind in the world'
Vancouver City Council has approved the construction of a new 58,000 square foot facility to service immigrants and refugees.
The "Welcome House Centre" will include short-term and long-term housing, medical services and English language training. There will also be trauma care, child care, a youth centre, food security services, a banking kiosk and a legal clinic.
Chris Friesen, director of settlement services for the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. (ISSBC), says the building will be the first of its kind in the world.
"This is another milestone in this long-term multi-year project of getting this facility built... we've had outstanding support from the city," he said in an interview on CBC Radio One's On the Coast.
The centre will consist of two separate buildings, six and four storeys high respectively. There will be 28 modular housing units that can accommodate single men and women and families.
Friesen says one of the centre's unique characteristics is the ability to house immigrants and refugees for a longer period of time.
"For those families and individuals that need a bit more support up front, we'll keep them longer," he said. "That will support refugees' and other immigrants' integration process down the line."
The City of Vancouver will provide $490,000 and a 60-year land lease at $1 per year in support of the new project.
Construction of the centre is expected to begin in January 2014 on Victoria Drive near East Broadway.
ISSBC plans to open it in the spring of 2016.