Riaz Mamdani to make good on Federal refugee promise

Andrew Willis, Life as a Human

The Syrian refugee crisis seemed to reach its pinnacle in September when the small body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey. Aylan, his brother, mother and father had fled Syria in a tiny overcrowded boat that capsized during the treacherous journey. Aylan, his brother, Ghalib, and their mother all drowned in the waters off the Turkish coast, something which fueled the humanitarian outcry that came immediately after.

Countries around the world vowed to open their borders and arms to the hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian refugees who were flooding into Europe. Canada, more than half a world away from Syria, quickly came under fire by the international media because the Kurdi family had wanted to settle in Canada with extended family. Mr. Kurdi pointed out Canada’s stringent immigration guidelines as part of the reason the Kurdi’s never made it to the Great White North.

The then Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, expressed his condolences to the family, but remained vague as to what role Canada would play in housing fleeing refugees. In mid-October, Stephen Harper lost the federal election to liberal candidate, Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau vowed to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of 2015. Then the November 13th Paris attacks happened and renewed fear of a North American terrorist attack. Countries around the world began to scale back their efforts to ease the refugee crisis and citizens raised concerns about safety.

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City of Calgary Accessibility Tour

Calgary Metro – On Thursday, a group made up of people from the City of Calgary’s Transportation and Planning, Development and Assessment departments, members of the Calgary Construction Association, and not-for-profit organizations, along with Coun. Druh Farrell, put the city’s accessibility to the test by embarking on a tour. Read the full story here.

Strategic Group’s Portfolio Analyst and lead on the Accessibility for All Albertans initiative, Nabeel Ramji, accompanied the 10 able-bodied individuals as they took on disability for a day. The group traveled from the municipal building to the Simmons Building in the East Village facing many challenges along the way like transit rides, crossing busy roads and dealing with the cobblestone on Stephen Avenue.

The idea for this tour was brought forward by Accessible Housing, the Advisory Committee on Accessibility (City of Calgary), and Coun. Druh Farrell. With the passing of Druh Farrell’s Notice of Motion, “Improving Calgary’s Accessibility” in July 2015, the idea was to create awareness about some of the barriers that many citizens face amongst the decision makers, and the senior management team at The City of Calgary.

“The biggest challenge for the group was navigating the C-train platform, and trying to get on and off the train in a timely manner,” Nabeel says.

“I hope that the tour participants gained a deeper understanding of some of the barriers that many citizens face on a daily basis, and how the interaction with the built-environment can vary person-to-person, given the different types of challenges or impairments.”

Nabeel hopes this conversation around building a more accessible and inclusive place to live will impact how public spaces and buildings are designed moving forward.

“I also hope it increases the general public’s awareness of the overall accessibility challenges within the City and how there are many citizens who are resilient and courageous to overcome them.”

Nabeel says there is still a lot of work to do ahead, but with increased awareness, there is a real opportunity for real estate professionals, architects, and developers to have a collective and meaningful conversation on accessibility.

The City of Calgary Accessibility Tour received great media coverage yesterday; check it out!

Calgary Herald

Global News

CTV News (10 minutes in)

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Calgary landlords preparing for refugee influx

Strategic Group CEO Riaz Mamdani says his company is willing to do what it takes to provide housing to Syrian Refugees coming to Canada. Mamdani was a child refugee from Uganda in the 1970s, and said he and his family now want to give back.


Brodie Thomas, Calgary Metro

Calgary’s landlords are stepping forward to say they’re ready to accept Syrian refugees into their properties.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi mentioned that the city is meeting with some of the city’s larger property owners during a phone in on CBC radio Wednesday afternoon.

When contacted, the mayor’s office declined to elaborate on any meetings at this time, as did Calgary Housing Company.

But Riaz Mamdani, the CEO of Calgary-based Strategic Group, confirmed he had spoken with the mayor’s office as well as federal officials and made a commitment to help.

He said his company – which owns rental properties across Canada – is prepared to open its properties to Syrian refugees with no limits imposed.

“If that means we’re not going to charge them for a period of time, that’s our commitment to the overall cause,” said Mamdani.

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