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City of Cold Lake hopeful provincial program will boost local economy

COLD LAKE – The City of Cold Lake has been designated under the Rural Renewal Stream (RSS) of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.
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COLD LAKE – The City of Cold Lake has been designated under the Rural Renewal Stream (RSS) of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program. 

Craig Copeland, Mayor for the City of Cold Lake, said the RSS program allows businesses to simplify the initial phase of the “economic immigration process,” explaining that the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process was identified as a “bottleneck” that caused application delays. 

The RSS authorizes a municipality to provide foreign nationals with a letter of nomination once they have a job offer from an eligible and approved business within the municipality. 

The program allows foreign nationals to bypass the LMIA process and instead use the letter of nomination to “begin the immigration process through the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program,” according to the news release. Federal and provincial immigration regulations and processes will still remain. 

The City of Cold Lake is working to establish the program before it can start accepting applications. 

The business community and the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce brought the need for the RSS to the city's attention, noting that many businesses in the community are facing staffing shortages, with some operating at 70 per cent capacity. 

This has resulted in reduced operating hours, the closure of certain business operations, and in some cases has delayed expansion plans for local businesses. 

Ryan Lefebvre, president of the Cold Lake Regional Chamber, affirmed the information. “We have lots of businesses that run [advertisements] constantly... they don’t take them off the job boards because they aren’t able to keep employees long enough.” 

“So, we’re hoping [RSS] will alleviate some of the job pressure,” he said. “In the end, it benefits all the consumers in the area because services get better.” 

Businesses located in Cold Lake are qualified to participate in the program if they have full-time positions they have been unable to fill – as long as they have not violated any provincial, federal, or municipal regulations. 

Businesses must also complete a brief housing plan and must agree to help newcomers hired settle into the community. The program will be administered by the City of Cold Lake's administration and Cold Lake and District FCSS, with help from Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures Lakeland. 

Copeland said the program “arrived at the perfect time” to ensure growth of local businesses. More details of the application process will be available from the City once the program is set up. 

“Cold Lake has proven to be a welcoming community with many opportunities for people who have immigrated here for work. They have helped to grow our community and contribute greatly to the vibrancy of the city we call home,” said Copeland. “Many have put down roots, became Canadians and some have gone on to start their own businesses.” 

Mario Cabradilla

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