Naramata Centre suggested for Syrian refugee housing

Naramata Centre board member Doug Woollard says the board is open to discussion regarding using the centre for refugee housing, but said only a limited number of the centre's buildings would be suitable.
Image Credit: Contributed/Centre at Naramata

PENTICTON - As Naramata Centre’s new board of directors try to plot a course for the future, one suggested use appears to be gaining favour: Supporting Syrian refugees.

Directors of the former retreat have sought input from the community of Naramata about how best to use the facility, which is owned by the United Church and a refugee centre has been a common suggestion.

Director Doug Woollard even took it to Facebook and said board members share concerns about the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, noting the United Church’s active efforts in responding to the crisis.

“If there are individuals, congregations, or groups who wish to sponsor refugees to come to the village of Naramata, we would welcome their efforts,” he says, but acknowledges significant challenges. Making a long-term commitment to housing refugees may be difficult given the “painfully slow” pace of processing refugees.

“We can’t  make a firm commitment to housing refugees without clarity regarding future use of the centre,” he said, adding the board was meeting on Friday with people in Naramata who were interested in sponsoring refugees.

While Woollard couldn’t say how many refugees the centre could accommodate, several of the centre’s buildings aren’t suitable.

“There are only a few houses that would be suitable. Other buildings don’t have the facilities necessary for daily living. There will be a limited amount of accommodation, if we are able to do it,” he said.

The board’s goal is to have an initial plan for the centre ready by next spring.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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