The construction of the ISSofBC Welcome Centre with its multiple different components and purposes added additional complexity to the project compounded by the space in which it’s built on.
Like most construction projects there are the inevitable last minute hiccups. Years of work comes down to a single piece of paper where numerous city inspectors representing different building elements ensure the building is safe to occupy.
We needed one final inspection on a Friday afternoon and after placing a few frantic phone calls it was not to be.
On Monday, May 30 late in the afternoon I received a call from the Mayor’s office that the occupancy permit had come through and it could be picked up from Mayor Robertson himself.
Shortly after 5pm the mayor handed me the permit and as you can see from the photo I was beaming. We opened our doors the next day and students and clients began arriving not to mention staff. The physical move involving two ISSofBC sites as well as five co-location tenants is a separate story but under the able leadership of Veronica Lee every detail was considered.
The opportunity to be involved in the design and construction phase of this social purpose built facility has indeed been a highlight of my career.
Come and visit us on Saturday, June 25 when we host our grand opening to local neighbours, partners, colleagues and special guests.
I think you will agree that the ISSofBC Welcome Centre is a unique facility worldwide charting a new local and international model for integrating newcomers.
About the Author: Chris Friesen has been the ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services for over twenty years. He is currently leading the multi-year initiative to design and build a Metro Vancouver Regional Service Centre for Refugees. In spring 2016, this 58,000sf facility will become the first of its kind in the world, bringing together a variety of community and government services and organizations to meet the immediate needs of refugees and immigrants settling in BC. Learn more about the ISSofBC Welcome Centre.