WINNIPEG —; The Kapyong Barracks is the perfect place to house up to 2,000 Syrian refugees according to a Winnipeg military expert.
Gary Solar is a retired Colonel and chief of operations at the Centre for Crime and Terrorism Studies in the United States.
He says the Barracks is a self-contained “village” with the buildings, living quarters and security measures already in place to make it an ideal temporary home for refugees.
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However the structures have sat vacant for 11 years, meaning they’d be in need of major restorative work before they’d be suitable to live in.
But Solar still thinks the plan could work, “In some of the halls they could put people up in temporary accommodation while they worked to make the other buildings safe.”
Complicating things is the status of the Kapyong Barracks lands, with a potential deal for the property between Treaty 1 First Nations and the federal government on the horizon.
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Regardless of whether or not Kapyong ultimately works as a temporary home for refugees Winnipeg could soon be looking for places to house hundreds or possibly thousands from Syria.
The Canadian government has promised to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before next year.
“We will work with whatever administration is necessary, whether it’s opening up local gyms, whether it’s Kapyong Barracks or whether it’s private accommodation,” says executive director of Welcome Place Rita Chahal.
She says they will be ready for the challenge of welcoming the potential surge of people coming Winnipeg. She has even issued a no time-off rule for her employees over the holidays in case they need to help people as they arrive.