Opened in June 2016, ISSofBC’s Welcome Centre lives up to its global reputation as a successful model of integrated housing and settlement support services for newcomers and refugees.
Watch this three minute video about the Centre.
Over 600 people walk through the centre’s doors each day to access a wide variety of services.
in 18 flexible living units for refugees.
in over 40 languages.
ranging from literacy to workplace-focused English.
including job support for newcomers of varying skills and needs.
designed for newcomer young people to connect with other young people and develop new skills.
including an outdoor playground and family area for LINC students.
providing primary health care.
providing bank account starts, financial literacy training and an ATM service.
that can be used for internal and external meetings and events.
We offer important services provided by co-tenants or partners.
ISSofBC Welcome Centre provides a unique venue to connect you with local and broader communities:
We offer tours of the Centre. Over 600 people from a variety of local organizations, as well as students, have toured including:
The Centre is a favoured destination for those interested in learning how this unique model of integrated housing and wrap-around support services is easing the settlement journey for newcomers and refugees. Prominent people who have toured the facility include:
During their visit to the ISSofBC Welcome Centre as part of their week-long tour of BC in 2016, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – accompanied by the Trudeaus and provincial politicians – met with a young, newly-arrived Syrian refugee family in one of the centre’s housing units, as well as six clients from ISSofBC.
“We are very honoured to have Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit,” said ISSofBC’s former CEO Patricia Woroch. “We appreciate the opportunity to showcase not only our purpose-built building – ISSofBC Welcome Centre – but also our services and the role ISSofBC plays in helping to settle newcomers to Canada.”
To mark the royal tour, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an official gift to ISSofBC of $50,000 from the Government of Canada to be applied to services closely aligned with the royal couple’s interests and charitable undertakings.
Henriquez Partners Architects and Terra Housing Consultants developed the Welcome Centre. The 58,000-square foot facility is built to Gold LEED certification using strategies aimed at reducing energy and water usage, promoting better indoor air quality, and improving quality of life.
Veronica Gillies, architect and director of innovation for Henriquez Partners Architects, remarked on the form and design of Welcome Centre, “The form of the project responds to the site, neighbourhood and pedestrian context. The use of extensive exterior wood grain panelling and glulam beams set in abundant greenery creates a warm welcome for both tenants and immigrants. The interiors are warm, inviting and filled with light, as well as being easy to maintain.”
Terra Housing Consultants’ Simon Davie said, “Each floor is unique as the building is multi-use….the building is for people.”
What strikes visitors is the entry plaza where the word “Welcome” is written in 12 different languages and set in the concrete paving. “It’s as if the Welcome Centre directly speaks to the new arrivals and (allows) residents to be reminded every time they walk in or out that they are welcomed to this country,” said Alain Lamontagne of landscaping firm Durante Kreuk Ltd.
The construction of this $27-million facility was made possible with funding support from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, on land provided by the City of Vancouver, and contributions from individuals and supporters, primarily Vancity and the Edith Lando Family Foundation.
(Quotes excerpted from Jerry Eberts‘s article in Award Magazine, October, 2016)
Opening Celebration – June 2016
On June 25, 2016, ISSofBC Welcome Centre officially opened its doors to the world. At the opening celebration, ISSofBC’s former CEO Patricia Woroch said, “The new ISSofBC Welcome Centre will be a safe haven where immigrants and refugees can come for assistance to get a solid start on their new lives in Canada.”
ISSofBC Welcome Centre is an incredible achievement. While there were only two years between ground-breaking on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2014 and the opening celebration on June 25, 2016, ISSofBC’s leaders had been developing and executing a viable financial and development plan to build the facility for close to 30 years!
The first step was put in motion in the late 1980s with the purchase of the Drake Street property to accommodate temporary refugee housing and a variety of settlement services. In the 1990s and early 2000s, successive boards put their vision of a multi-service centre providing a wide range of programming for immigrants and refugees into successive strategic plans. Working closely with the CEO and key staff, a Board Facilities committee laid the groundwork for the feasibility of the Centre.
From 2012 to 2016, the focus was to work with the community, all levels of government, and the architects.
The achievement of ISSofBC Welcome Centre is a testament to the unwavering commitment and dedication of ISSofBC’s Board of Directors, the inspiring leadership of Patricia Woroch, former Chief Executive Officer, and the tireless efforts of Chris Friesen, Chief Operating Officer.