Oyama homeowners Roxana and Bruce Adams say they are ready and willing to accept Syrian refugees and have Lake Country's approval to do it. Others say a rural setting may not the best place.

Oyama couple ready to welcome refugees: Lake Country council gives zoning approval

Roxana and Bruce Adams of Living Water Certified Organic vineyard are ready while not everyone thinks rural setting works

An Oyama vineyard owner has decided to follow her heart and not give into fear.

Roxana Adams and her husband Bruce are making a carriage house on their property available to house Syrian refugees if needed and have received the proper approval from the District of Lake Country to make it possible.

The couple, who operate Living Water Certified Organic Vineyard, received a temporary use permit that will allow them to house refugees on their nearly six acre Oyama property if the need arises.

“This is a humanitarian issue that affects the whole world,” said Roxana. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. We talked about it and our carriage house is empty for most of the winter. We just thought ‘why not?’ I think some people will say ‘not in my backyard,’ but I think that’s coming from people’s fears and not being led by their heart. There are a very few number of people that are the ones that are terrorists. It’s miniscule. These people are leaving something that is really bad and I agree that we should be doing our part to help.”

Adams added that she believes the Canadian government has and will continue to do an excellent job of screening.

“It is the very vulnerable that are being allowed in,” she said. “Women and children, families and often relatives of families already here, well-educated families and many that have been waiting through this refugee process for a few years now, already in the system,” she said.

The Adams’ appeared at Lake Country council earlier this month to ask for the special permit to allow for housing refugees, something that is not accepted under their agri-tourism designation.

Two members of the public spoke up against the application and the district also received a few letters on the issue. All people who wrote or spoke against the move said they support efforts to help refugees but said a vineyard in Oyama that has agri-tourism designation was not the proper spot.

In a letter to Lake Country council Rosemary Misfeldt said she is in favour of helping out refugees but said a more urban area would be better for several reasons including the refugees potential isolation, lack of transportation and lack of contact with other refugees.

But at the vineyard, Adams said a rural setting might be just what is needed for a family who has been through what the Syrian refugees are dealing with and added Oyama Traditional School is very close to her location and the school bus goes right past their home.

She said church groups, who have taken the lead on bringing refugees into Canada, will work with families to help with transportation and becoming immersed in the community.

“The churches get very involved with getting them to family dinners and intermingling with other people that are already here with their own families,” said Adams who stressed she feels it is important for Canadians to make refugees welcome. “It’s really important that the youth are felt like they are welcomed because that is the group that will carry on. We have to make them welcome. That’s where our heart has to lead over our fear.”

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