We are all aware of the Syrian Refugee crisis that has inspired grassroots community participation right across Canada. We also know that the newly-elected Canadian government is now grappling with their campaign commitment to allow 25,000 refugees into the country. And one of the proposed solutions for short-term shelter is to house refugees on military bases.
The challenge? This is Canada and WINTER is fast approaching. How do you accommodate that many people all at once, and provide access to basic needs such as shelter, warmth, food, washrooms, medical care, and so on.
As I was pondering this from a local perspective (I.E. how could we do this here with no built infrastructure?), it occurred to me that we already have some large public buildings that have traditionally been used to shelter hundreds of people, with heating systems, multiple bathrooms, cafeterias, medical clinics, admin offices, and so on. And also that a number of these buildings are currently being deemed "surplus to current requirements," for lack of a better term.
I'm referring to the local schools that are proposed for imminent closure. See goCapeBreton.com HERE.
Is this idea completely crazy?
I know, I know. There are funding issues to be worked out. Like who pays for cleaning staff, cooking staff, and so on. But I think that the federal government could help with that IF the political will is there.
Would it not be ironic if, due to our declining circumstances, we have the critical infrastructure that enables our federal government to shelter these refugees, who so need our help at this time.
And, if the solution also helps us with our demographic problem and build a stronger community in the long run, well that's just the icing on the cake.
I have faith that our community would rise to this challenge, and would rally to help these folks. Because that's who we are. We help those in need, even though we are not as well off as some other communities. Or perhaps because we know firsthand what it's like to do without.
What do you think? Does this idea make sense or is it too far out of the box? Share your thoughts below.