The City’s role in receiving Syrian refugees remains unclear after a phone conference between Interior Health and Thompson-Nicola civic leaders Tuesday.
Mayor Peter Milobar briefed City council on the discussion after it delayed his arrival at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Milobar said municipalities are waiting for direction from Ottawa after the new Liberal government laid out its plans earlier in the day for an accelerated plan to take in 25,000 refugees by year’s end.
“No one’s really sure what the numbers will be,” he said. “They want the refugees dispersed evenly throughout the country.”
There is no set role for municipalities at this stage, but he promised to keep everyone informed as plans take shape.
The municipality is not allowed to sponsor refugees, he noted.
“I know it can be a little confusing … as to what the next step is going to be.”
There will be two streams of refugees, he added. Individuals and organizations can sponsor refugees — several groups in Kamloops are already planning to do so — but the greater commitment lies with government-sponsored refugees.
“There’s kind of a dual stream.”
Coun. Arjun Singh, whose grandmother became a refugee after the partitioning of India in the 1940s, stressed the importance of sponsorship.
“I am looking forward in our community to welcoming people from Syria,” he said. “We’re going to be giving them their freedom … a real ability to start again.”