It might be the last place refugees fleeing war-torn Syria would expect to end up: a remote collection of cabins nestled between the Columbia and Rocky mountains, an area whose majestic scenery and wilderness makes it a magnet for rafters, hikers and skiers.
But Beaverfoot Lodge general manager Raphael Assaf, who, along with the resort's owner, is offering to temporarily house up to 70 of the thousands of refugees expected to arrive in Canada in the coming months, says it's not a far-fetched idea.
"It's not as remote as you'd think," he said.
"We're 12 kilometres down a logging road … and then once you get to the highway, it's 26 kilometres down the Number 1 to Golden. What they are going through right now – this would be paradise for them."
Mr. Assaf's suggestion – which is backed by the owner of the lodge, an Albertan who prefers to stay in the background – comes as governments, aid groups, schools and churches are scrambling to line up lodging for thousands of refugees who could come to Canada in coming weeks. Those arrivals would be part of the Liberal government's plan to take in 25,000 refugees from Syria by the end of the year, an estimated 2,800 of whom are expected to wind up in B.C.
Those potential arrivals have resulted in calls for Canadians to open their hearts, wallets and even their homes to help settle the newcomers.
Mr. Assaf, a Canadian-born filmmaker whose first project focused on his late father's life in Lebanon, says he and the lodge's owner have been talking for some time about ways to generate social, as well as economic, benefits from the resort.
"We want to be more creative with the place – it is a magnificent property," Mr. Assaf said.
"It's one of those things that just seemed to be the right fit."
Mr. Assaf, who's worked at the lodge for five years and lives there with his wife and two children, has yet to contact officials with his pitch. But he's confident up to 70 people could be accommodated at Beaverfoot Lodge, which includes a main lodge and five cabins.
The arrangement wouldn't be permanent. The lodge's busiest time is in summer, when Mr. Assaf promotes it as a wedding destination and the region's river-rafting business is in high gear. But he sees it as a good option for five months, until June, when bookings pick up.
Children could either go to school in Golden or be home-schooled with Mr. Assaf's children – a daughter, 12, and a son, 8. The lodge has vehicles to shuttle people to Golden for shopping or appointments and nearby river-rafting companies would likely pitch in with transportation.
"As an independent filmmaker, you learn to be creative – I know I would be able to put out any fires that came up."
Those involved in refugee arrangements are looking at all options but the focus is primarily on Metro Vancouver, says Chris Friesen, chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance.
"The placement of where they are going to go has to align somewhat to the existing infrastructure and specialized services that exist," Mr. Friesen said. Information to date indicates most pending B.C. arrivals are likely to come from urban centres, will include many professionals, speak little to no English and have some degree of trauma, he added.
That said, offers like those made by Mr. Assaf could provide refugees with a landing pad that offers more healing surroundings than a military base – especially if the provincial government boosts capacity around the province to receive and support refugees.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced a $1-million refugee fund in September but it is not known how those funds are to be used, Mr. Friesen said.
"If we have generous offers like this resort in Golden, then we have to have the other systems in place," he said.