Calgary-based Mainstreet Equity Corp. is donating up to 200 apartments for Syrian refugees.
The federal Liberal government has pledged to settle 25,000 Syrians in Canada. About 3,500 are expected to arrive in British Columbia with hundreds more in other western provinces.
The offer was made by Bob Dhillon, founding chief executive officer of Mainstreet, to the office of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Dhillon, one of Canada’s largest landlords, has offered apartments in B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta cities to the refugee resettlement program.
The refugees could be offered a rent-free period or discounted rent for a longer period, Dhillon explained. Dhillon, who emigrated from war-torn Liberia with his family in the 1970s, said Mainstreet has Arabic-speaking staff and could also help with transporting refugees from holding centres to Mainstreet apartments.
"As an immigrant to Canada, and an apartment owner, I felt compelled to do this for the refugees as they embark on the road to better lives in our beloved country,” Dhillon said. “Immigrants are absolutely essential to build the fabric of the new Canada and to keep Canada globally competitive as a nation."
Dhillon is not the only landlord helping out. Vancouver developer Ian Gillespie has offered a 12-unit rental property in the city's West End to provide temporary accommodations for Syrian refugees.
Gillespie, founder of Westbank Developments, is refurbishing the apartments and offered the building to the Immigrant Services Society to be used as first-stop housing for refugees waiting for permanent homes.