Canada’s one stop platform and the #1 National voice to the rental housing industry


Posted in Housing, Immigration, Industry Trends, Newsworthy

Calgary real estate mogul Bob Dhillon is ready to provide a helping hand to those Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn homeland who seek shelter in Western Canada.

Dhillon, founder and CEO of the Mainstreet Equity rental property organization that currently has 16,000 apartments spread from Winnipeg to Vancouver Island, said he is determined to do whatever he can to provide support for people displaced by the fighting.

He is waiting to find out exact details of how the federal government plans to help those Ukrainians but expects many refugees and temporary visitors to make their way to the Prairie provinces, given the long history of Ukrainian settlement in the West.

“Just tell me what to do and I’m there for you,” he said.

Dhillon has offered temporary shelter to those displaced by turbulent events before, from residents fleeing the massive Slave Lake fire, to Syrian and Afghan refugees. Mainstreet works with both government and social agencies to provide subsidized housing but also directly with private groups to give free accommodation for several months, which helps displaced people find their feet without worrying about having a roof over their heads.

“We gave two suites to Afghan refugees who landed just yesterday. We are doing this all the time,” said Dhillon.

“Previously, we have provided two months free rent and that allows people to work with social assistance programs so they can get settled in during a very difficult time for them.

“I’m sure there will be some Ukrainian refugees who come and we will be more than happy to help. We have a very large portfolio of rental units spread across Western Canada so we have a ready supply of empty renovated suites.”

He added that it isn’t just the historical ties and the large Ukrainian diaspora that makes the West such an attractive choice for potential newcomers, whether they are immigrants or refugees.

“It’s about affordability. People can settle in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta and, within a few years, they can start thinking about buying a house, or getting their children into university,” he said. “If they settle instead in Toronto or Montreal, that becomes so much harder.”

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the federal government is working urgently on what is quickly becoming a global humanitarian crisis, as more than a million Ukrainians have fled their country so far since the Russian invasion.

The United Nations refugee agency is warning millions more could be displaced if the conflict continues, sparking what would be Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has announced Canada will let Ukrainians apply for an expedited visa to stay for two years, without the usual conditions such as language requirements or labour market assessments.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that under the expedited system, his government hopes to process temporary visas within weeks rather than the usual one-year timeline.

“We’re creating a new program for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily. This will eliminate many of the normal visa requirements — and it’ll be the fastest and safest way to come to Canada,” he said.


Story by: Calgary Herald