Refugees in Halifax will get 1-year transit passes

Halifax council has approved recommendations from city staff that will help refugees access public transportation and other municipal services.

Refugees may be issued ID cards to help them access other city services

On Tuesday, Halifax council agreed to provide new refugees in the city with temporary transit passes during their first year of settlement. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax council has approved recommendations from city staff that will help refugees access public transportation and other municipal services.

Staff said in the report, which was discussed Tuesday at council, that Halifax Transit should provide temporary transit passes to refugees during their first year of settlement.

"The municipality can play a larger role in supporting the settlement of refugees coming to Halifax, first by helping co-ordinate services upon arrival and second by the provision of municipal services to support both refugee settlement and integration," the report says. 

The report also recommends city staff co-ordinate with refugee agencies to help newcomers access recreation and library services, potentially through an identification or municipal services card. 

Council approved the report and all recommendations with no amendments. 

A municipal spokesperson says the city is still waiting for confirmation by the province on how many refugees will be coming. Many that are arriving will be supported by organizations that have signed agreements with the federal government, which means they could settle in a number of locations in Nova Scotia.

When those numbers are determined, so will many of the costs associated with the transit and municipal services plan. 

The staff report also recommended Halifax police reach out to help refugees overcome fear of law enforcement. It also says the city should be prepared that temporary emergency shelters might be needed. 

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