Decision on free bus passes for refugees delayed until next Kamloops council meeting -

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Decision on free bus passes for refugees delayed until next Kamloops council meeting

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April 13, 2016 - 10:30 AM

KAMLOOPS - Refugees will have to wait a bit longer to find out if they will get help covering transit costs in the city.

Kamloops city council was set to discuss a request from the Kamloops Immigrant Services asking for the city to consider free bus passes for recently arrived and incoming refugees from the war-torn country during a council meeting yesterday, April 12, but had to put off the discussion when the meeting ran later than expected.

Coun. Donovan Cavers, who was chairing the end of the meeting when Mayor Peter Milobar had to leave to attend another meeting, says he’ll bring it up at the next regular council meeting April 26. He says as chair he is unable to bring up a motion to take action on the issue.

“I’m pretty sure there’s support around the table,” he said. “I think it was just a matter of a long day.”

Cavers said locals who say seniors or low income families should get passes first should not compare to refugees travelling from war torn Syria to protect themselves and family. The city has recently lowered the bus rate for adults as well, he added.

“They’re going through a lot of culture shock and all sorts of changes, so it’s one way we can extend an olive branch,” he said. “The cost of living in Canada is probably quite shocking to them. I’m sure they're going through a lot of hurdles that a lot of Canadians who are born in Canada don’t face.”

He said the transit system is already operating and they might not use the service otherwise, so it’s not necessarily hurting the bottom line for transit.

Kamloops Immigrant Services sent council a letter March 24 asking for consideration of free passes for refugees in Kamloops. City administration attached a response to the letter in the April 12 council agenda saying staff could deal with a program like that efficiently and easily.

— This story was edited at 9:53 a.m., April 27, 2016, to correct who the passes would be for. While statistics in the letter from the immigrant society suggest Syrian refugees would be the majority, it asks for passes for refugees in general, not just Syrian refugees.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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