Asylum seekers must move by July 31

By Richard Mahoney

The 537 asylum seekers living at the Dev Hotel and Conference Centre in Cornwall will have to move out by the end of the month after Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) confirmed that its contract with the former Nav Centre will expire July 31.

Service organizations have been scrambling to try to find housing for the asylum claimants since the news was confirmed Monday.

Since September of 2022, IRCC has provided temporary accommodations at the Cornwall hotel for asylum claimants entering Canada.

The federal department notes in a statement that, “This was initially implemented as an extraordinary measure during the pandemic for asylum claimants without a suitable quarantine plan. However, it has continued due to housing shortages and affordability challenges.”

IRCC says it is doing its best to mitigate the risk of claimants being unable to find housing “through intensive ongoing case management with claimants.”

IRCC staff, the DEV Centre, provincially funded organizations and City of Cornwall officials are working closely with residents to assist them with securing housing as they transition to independent living. Should anyone be in need of accommodation following the closure of the site, IRCC will offer transfers to another location within Ontario. At this stage, it is not known how many of the 537 residents will require a transfer, as significant efforts are being made to connect them to housing in the area. It is also important to note that many have secured employment locally, IRCC says.

Cornwall saw a total of 1,879 asylum claimant arrivals in 2022 and 2023. Asylum claimants now account for approximately two per cent of Cornwall’s population, according to the city’s web page.

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