Sunday, October 1, 2023

Council to look at amending free refugee bus passes to include Ukrainians

Lethbridge city council will look at amending a motion from its last meeting, which approved free bus passes for refugees. Devon Hargreaves, media liaison for Project Sunflower, said the original motion overlooked Ukrainians affected by war because many of them do not have refugee status when they come here.

“They come here on a work permit and under a special program for Ukrainians so they are overlooked in the existing regulation and so with this amendment, it will allow this program to benefit both refugees and Ukrainian arrivals to our city,” he said. 

Project Sunflower reached out to Councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel with this concern and she is bringing an amendment forward to council’s July 26 meeting. 

“We are very thankful to all of council and hoping that this amendment passes quickly and that it can benefit even more people,” Hargreaves said. “For Ukrainians arriving in Lethbridge, they don’t have transit obviously — no vehicles, they are coming with what they were able to bring with them.”

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He said having access to transit will be a big help for Ukrainians in Lethbridge. “We do have some folks here that bike from the north side to the college to attend ESL and so things like this will go a long way in supporting our new arrivals to our city and it will benefit a lot of people.”

Hargreaves said he is grateful for Councillor Ryan Parker bringing the original motion forward and he hopes the amendment receives support from all of council.

Project Sunflower is a non-profit organization that supports Ukrainians impacted by war by helping them come to Canada and helping them settle.

It has launched its Ukrainian Family Settlement Program and invites anyone interested in hosting families to apply on the organization’s website. To date, it has placed over 70 Ukrainian arrivals in Lethbridge and southern Alberta. It also has over 50 outstanding applications and has been communicating with over 260 families.

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