West Kootenay: Communities in Canada’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
Parsai Immigration Services is providing an overview of 11 Canadian communities. These communities are listed under Canada’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. The last community we’ll be looking at is West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), British Columbia.
What is the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot?
In short, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven government program. This program will help rural Canadian areas attract foreign workers. These areas need more workers in order to meet economic development and labour market needs. You can find more information on the pilot program by clicking here.
What can you expect from each community?
According to the government of Canada, the communities will:
- promote the pilot and their community to possible candidates
- identify job opportunities in the local economy and work to match applicants to jobs
- assess possible candidates who:
- best fit the economic needs of the community
- have a genuine employment opportunity
- have the intention of staying in the community
- recommend candidates for permanent residence to IRCC for a final decision
- provide a welcoming community for immigrants
- connect immigrants to official members of the community and settlement services
- report on the results of the pilot
Now, let’s explore West Kootenay.
The West Kootenay Region (known to locals as “The Kootenays”) is in the mountainous southeastern region of British Columbia, Canada. Several different mountain ranges – the Selkirks, the Valhallas, the Purcells and the Monashees – tower over the rivers and lakes in the valleys below.
West Kootenay communities range in size from the “Queen City” of Nelson, with a population of 10,000, to the unincorporated village of Winlaw in the Slocan Valley, population 300. Some of the communities located in West Kootenay are Rossland, Castlegar, Trail, Salmo, Nakusp, and Kaslo.
The Kootenays currently has an unemployment rate of 6.3%, which is above the provincial average of 4.5%. Yet jobs remain unfilled. Since January, more than 1,000 vacancies have been advertised on the Kootenay Career Development Services job board. Some local businesses in West Kootenay are operating with an employee shortage because they can’t find anyone to fill their open positions.
One reason that local businesses may not be able to find anyone to fill their positions is because of the ageing baby boomer population. As the baby boomer population ages and leaves gaps in the labour market, skilled trades workers are needed to replace them. In fact, in the past, BC companies such as Sutco Transportation Specialists have hired workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in order to fill these gaps in the labour market.
Families have access to top-class education in The West Kootenays. The region offers a number of private and public schools for your children. There are also many opportunities for skills training, continuing education and professional development at the post-secondary level. You can find a list of West Kootenays school districts and schools by clicking here.
West Kootenay offers a variety of health care services including 24-hour emergency and trauma services, level 2 laboratory, acute and obstetrical care, psychiatry and chemotherapy. The West Kootenay aims to enhance health care service and improve conditions for health care professionals through provincial funding and government grants.
The Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) is located in Trail and serves the needs of the West Kootenay region. The hospital is the largest diagnostic and acute care facility in the region.
The West Kootenay Boundry Regional Hospital District (WKBRHD) aims to provide funding for hospital equipment and capital projects. Projects and priorities are proposed each year by the Interior Health Authority (IHA). For more information on programs and services offered by Interior Health and to find a location near you, click here.
The West Kootenay welcomes all kinds of people: hippies, farmers, rednecks, mountaineers, ski-bums, hipster families and retirees. People are free to be themselves in this community (whatever that may be). Enjoy the slow pace and friendly nature of small-town Kootenay where the big picture is the grand beauty of wild nature all around you.
Each town in the West Kootenay has its own character. They are small enough that their residents really do get to know one another, and together the people in each community create a culture that is unique to their time and place. It’s an easy-going familiarity that extends to strangers on the sidewalk.
West Kootenay welcomes newcomers to help this community retain employees, build businesses and develop the economy. The RNIP is the latest approach in BC’s efforts to attract newcomers to its rural communities.
This past March, the West Kootenay communities of Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, and Rossland were among 30 BC communities selected to participate in the BC’s new Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot. This program targets foreign entrepreneurs to establish businesses in rural communities.
Community Futures Central Kootenay will introduce and deliver the RNIP project. The program starts in Fall 2019 with the first immigrants arriving early in 2020. The community of West Kootenay aims to attract over 250 immigrants over the next three years.
Community Futures Central Kootenay is committed to increasing community and regional capacity in the West Kootenay through Community Economic Development (CED). The organization aims to improve and nurture partnerships, inspire innovative thinking, develop best practise initiatives and promote a healthy, vibrant economy.
CED initiatives and programs include the following:
- Business Retention and Expansion
Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) is an action-oriented and community-based approach to business and economic development. It promotes job growth by helping communities to learn about the concerns of, as well as opportunities for, local businesses and to set priorities for projects to address those needs. BRE research can take the form of a comprehensive community survey or smaller-scale business walks.
- Strategic Doing
Strategic Doing enables people to form action-oriented collaborations quickly, move them toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. It yields replicable, scalable, and sustainable collaborations based on simple rules. The Nelson Innovation Centre (below) was the outcome of a strategic doing collaboration.
- Nelson Innovation Centre
The Nelson Innovation Centre began as an idea in 2015. The Nelson Innovation Centre helps local entrepreneurs become world-class innovators and disruptors by linking them to mentors, training, talent, investors and community.
- Intelligent Community
The Intelligent Community Forums Awards Program is based on a set of Intelligent Community Indicators identified by the Forum as the critical success factors for developing a competitive and inclusive local economy today. The indicators include broadband connectivity, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital equality, sustainability and advocacy.
- Welcoming Communities and Workplaces Program
This program was developed to encourage the settlement of migrant and immigrant workers and their families to the region. Four communities: Nelson, Trail, Grand Forks and Castlegar formed a cooperative to improve services to newcomers. In 2012 a new action plan was developed. Highlights include a new Welcome Map, relocation packages for newcomers, the hiring of a settlement support coordinator, a mentoring and volunteer program and training for individuals who are first points of contact with workers and their families.
The following fun facts are courtesy of Kokanee Life.
- Kootenay Lake Never Freezes- why you ask? No real definitive answer but probably due to the flow of the water, some believe that there are underground thermal springs that keep the lake above freezing, it is one of the few lakes in the region that do not freeze over and that’s ok with us. It makes for excellent year-round fishing!
- Creston has 2035 annual hours of sunshine while Kelowna has 1949.
- Drive time from Calgary to Crawford Bay vs Kelowna From the epicentre of the city (Chinook Mall) it is 560 kilometres to Crawford Bay vs 610 km to Kelowna city centre. and it takes 5 hours 53 minutes to CB versus 6 hours 10 minutes.
- The longest-running mine in Canada was the Bluebell in Riondel. 1895-1972 (including closed time)!
Doha Hanno Publicist, Parsai Immigration Services.
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