On Monday, the rumor mill was still bubbling, then a few hours later the phone rang at Köfer. “The lady who was sent ahead by the Minister of the Interior told me that up to 250 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan will be accommodated in the Gaborhalle,” Köfer said after a special session of the City Council. All factions were particularly surprised about the way the federal government and the state had provided information, especially since Carinthia’s refugee officer Sara Schaar (SPÖ) comes from Spittal an der Drau.
The lady who was sent ahead by the Minister of the Interior told me that up to 250 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan will be accommodated in the Gabor Hall.
Gerhard Köfer, Mayor of the City of Spittal
The city protested massively against the move, they were also planning a community consultation and wanted to “exhaust all legal possibilities – for example in terms of building law – against it,” says Köfer: “The unanimous tenor across all party lines was that the city of Spittal does not accept this ambush-like approach.”
Haselsteiner Hall as accommodation
The Gabor Hall, owned by the Haselsteiner Foundation, would have been considered as accommodation. In conversation with Köfer, owner Hans Peter Haselsteiner was also surprised. Therefore, the entrepreneur sought still on Tuesday morning the conversation with the federal care facility and withdrew his offer for the accommodation of refugees in the Gaborhalle, according to initial media information, because this hall would have been intended only for Ukrainian refugees.
The Federal Care Agency then stated in a written statement: “The Federal Care and Support Agency maintains that the communication with the owner representatives of the hall in Spital was always about the accommodation of asylum seekers and this was also made clear.”
City politics told Karner to fight
“We will resist the action,” Köfer announced, “The property is designated as a commercial area. There, housing is not allowed by law.” With Haselsteiner’s withdrawal, the mayor’s intervention is no longer necessary.
Not only from the Federal Support Agency there was criticism for the Carinthian refugee policy, also in the Spittal SPÖ one was disappointed. “We are presented with a fait accompli here, although Governor Kaiser and Refugee Officer Schaar agreed,” said the Spittal Reds. From the office of State Councillor Sara Schaar it says: “We could not have given our consent because it would have been a private accommodation. That would not have been legally possible at all.”
Asbestos in the soil
A total of 60 containers should have found space in the hall. A tenant in the affected commercial property reported during a “Krone” local inspection that a company already wanted to rent the hall some time ago. At that time, however, there was a refusal, because asbestos is said to be in the floor. “And now refugees were supposed to be housed there,” the tenant says in surprise.
Refugees: Carinthia brings up the rear
Only two provinces are meeting their care quota, according to the Federal Agency for Care and Support Services (BBU): Vienna and Burgenland. “Carinthia brings up the rear in terms of quota fulfillment,” says BBU head Andreas Achrainer. According to him, the owner of the former shoe factory had made a corresponding offer to BBU, “we were just checking all the relevant details.” Overall, the case is “a good example of how it is made impossible for the BBU to create quarters,” says Achrainer.