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Toronto Mayor John Tory said he’s also asked city staff for a variety of other information, including data from the recent Pan Am Games, as well as a list of infrastructure projects that could potentially be accelerated with an Olympic bid.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

In light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria, Toronto Mayor John Tory will be sponsoring a family of Syrian refugees in Canada – and is encouraging others to do the same.

Mayor Tory said Friday he received an email from a friend last weekend asking if he'd join with others to contribute at total of $27,000 to sponsor a refugee family through the Toronto-based Lifeline Syria. He agreed and is now inviting others to do the same.

Lifeline Syria aims to settle at least 1,000 Syrians in the Greater Toronto Area over the next two years. "It's not going to happen by itself," Mr. Tory said. "It's going to happen because Torontonians step up and offer to be of help to Lifeline Syria. It could be money but it could be other things as well."

Mr. Tory's announcement comes as an ongoing stream of refugees continue to flee the wars of the Middle East and central Asia. It also comes the day after the image of a drowned Syrian refugee – 3-year-old Alan Kurdi – sent shock-waves around the world.

"To see a little boy … in a circumstance like that, where they have washed up on the shore trying to find out of desperation a place they can seek refuge from turmoil and catastrophe that we can't even imagine, broke my heart," Mr. Tory said.

The mayor likened today's Syrian refugees to the Vietnamese boat-people of the 1970s and 80s, 60,000 of whom were brought to Canada under a federal government program to match private sponsorship donations.

"I thought there was no reason why we couldn't repeat that kind of initiative," said Mr. Tory. "That kind of mobilization in Toronto and in other cities across Canada to make sure we could accommodate Syrian refugees that Lifeline Syria was talking about."

Canada is currently striving to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees over three years. It is currently 11 per cent of the way towards meeting that goal.

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