Moncton seeks pause in Syrian refugees as permanent homes sought

The continued influx of Syrian refugees is prompting Moncton to seek a pause on new arrivals until officials have time to arrange permanent housing for about 90 people who are still living in a hotel.

Fredericton, Saint John have nearly all Syrian refugees placed in permanent homes, haven't asked for a pause

New Brunswick has welcomed more than 1,000 Syrian refugees in three months, according to the New Brunswick Multicultural Council. So far, only Moncton has asked for a pause in new refugees. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The continued influx of Syrian refugees is prompting Moncton to seek a pause on new arrivals until officials have time to arrange permanent housing for about 90 people who are still living in a hotel.

Moncton and the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton requested the halt in new refugees in March so refugees could be "properly" integrated.

Alex LeBlanc, the managing director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, said the Moncton area has received 320 government-assisted refugees and roughly 230 have already found permanent homes.

"So there is still roughly 90 people transitioning in the Moncton area, so there is a pause in place until they work through that," LeBlanc said.

The situation is much different in Fredericton and Saint John.

The capital city has received 342 Syrian refugees. All have been placed in permanent homes. The Multicultural Council of Fredericton has six "welcome houses" that are presently empty but could be used as temporary houses for any new refugees.

"There is no backlog of people in Fredericton waiting for housing. We have welcome houses on standby waiting for families," he said.

Lisa Bamford de Gante, the executive director of the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, said the experience in her city shows how a community can come together quickly to help people in need. (CBC)

Lisa Bamford de Gante, the executive director of the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, said the Fredericton experience shows how a community can come together quickly to help people in need.

"Because we have had such success from incredible First Fredericton Friends, volunteers and the community, of course there are challenges, but together we have overcome those challenges," she said.

Saint John, meanwhile, has welcomed 372 government-assisted refugees and all but one family now has a permanent home. LeBlanc said the remaining family required special accommodations and he expects that family will be in a home shortly.

Saint John settlement workers have also found 12 additional apartments that will be used for permanent homes for future refugees.

Communities expecting refugees

There are 238 Syrian refugees staying at the Riverside Inn in Mactaquac and those people are waiting to be placed in communities around the province.

LeBlanc said they will be going to the three largest cities, but also to Woodstock, St. Stephen-St. George area, Bathurst and Edmundston.

He said the smaller communities have already confirmed permanent housing for those families.

Alex LeBlanc, the managing director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, said Saint John and Fredericton do not have backlogs in getting Syrian refugees into permanent housing. (CBC)
"They are building capacity in real time. I expect they will be able to welcome families within a few short weeks," he said.

There are no other immediate plans for more refugees in New Brunswick once the 238 people in the Mactaquac hotel are settled.

LeBlanc said community groups, settlement agencies and volunteers have been working hard to smooth the way for the Syrian refugees.

"Over 1,000 people have arrived in New Brunswick over the last three months. And permanent accommodations have been found for almost all of them, which I think is incredible," he said.

"This reflects roughly six to seven times more people than we would receive in a typical year over the course of three months"

LeBlanc said the young Syrian families coming to New Brunswick will "revitalize" New Brunswick communities. 

About the Author

Daniel McHardie

Digital senior producer

Daniel McHardie is the digital senior producer for CBC New Brunswick. He joined CBC.ca in 2008. He also co-hosts the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

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