Riaz Mamdani, chief executive of Strategic Group in Calgary, has opened up many of his company’s properties to accommodate the influx of Syrian refugees expected to settle in Canada during the next year.
Within Alberta, Calgary is expected to receive the most newcomers. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says that the availability of rental units and co-operation of landlords is essential to the endeavour. Calgary’s rental vacancies are at an all-time high.
“We’ve got about 2,500 vacant apartments in the city now, and we’ve been going to landlords, ranging from people who have a basement suite to very large landlords who have hundreds of units on the market, who have been offering discounts, special deals and flexible leases in order to get people into decent homes before they get on their feet,” Nenshi told the Calgary Herald.
In addition to offering up units, Strategic Group has agreed to work with the municipalities and local governments to ensure that the refugees are able to afford the rental spaces.
“If that means we’re not going to charge them for a period of time, that’s our commitment to the overall cause,” Mamdani told MetroNews.
While the offer may not appear to make financial sense to some, it is a personal one for Mamdani, whose family came to Canada as refugees after fleeing uncertain circumstances.
“My family are immigrants to Canada who came in a difficult time from a part of the world that was in chaos,” he says. “This is part of giving back to people 45 years later in a similar circumstance.”