Friday , 9 June 2023

Cold Lake Council votes in favour of rural renewal immigration program

At its regular meeting held February 14, 2022, Cold Lake City Council voted to approve a letter of support for the City’s application to the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program’s Rural Renewal Stream.

This letter of support was the final piece of an application for community designation under the program, which will allow foreign nationals to begin the immigration process with a community nomination rather than a labour market impact assessment (LIMA), provided they have a job offer from an employer who has been accepted into the program.

“We have been hearing consistently from our business community that there is a strong need for this program in the community – a need which will only grow over the coming years as major federal projects come online in the community,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “Economic immigration has been shown to help our local employers fill gaps in the local labour market and as the people they bring here settle and build lives in our community, they help to make Cold Lake a vibrant, exciting place to live.”

If Cold Lake is accepted in being designated under the program, it will be implemented through the City of Cold Lake and its Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), with Cold Lake and District FCSS providing settlement support for the newcomers who are hired through the program. The Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures Lakeland will also support the program by informing the local business community of the application process and the responsibilities they will take on by hiring foreign nationals, and through their participation in EDAC.

“From council’s perspective, Cold Lake and District FCSS is perfectly situated to assist with settling newcomers into the community – in fact, that’s a function they are already fulfilling,” Copeland said. “Cold Lake and District FCSS has proven to be a trusted helper in our community and, where they cannot provide a certain support directly, they have strong working relationships with the social service providers who do.”

The Rural Renewal Stream is a pilot project which allows designated economic development organizations in communities to approve eligible local businesses for participation. The businesses must have permanent, full-time employment available that they have not been able to fill within Canada. The businesses must also strive to provide welcoming workplaces for foreign nationals and, under the Cold Lake proposal, will have to complete a housing plan, an orientation plan and bring newcomers they hire into contact with FCSS for an orientation visit. There will also be follow-up appointments to ensure the program is working well for the newcomers and that they have been provided with the contacts and supports they require to successfully settle themselves and their families in the community.

“We know that the need for this will only grow as work begins to ramp-up to deliver the Federal Government’s future fighter program at 4 Wing Cold Lake, the oil patch is cautiously ramping up and large-scale carbon capture projects in the region are being planned,” Copeland said. “If we achieve designation under the Rural Renewal Stream, it will allow us to reduce the stress put on businesses that support these projects and are having a hard time finding the labour they need. Many businesses in Cold Lake in the retail, hospitality and construction sectors are reporting that they are operating with about 70 per cent of their optimal staffing levels. This means that they may have to curtail their operations, pause plans for growth and generally slows the pace at which the local economy can move.”

This is a significant piece to unlock further economic support and growth for Cold Lake.  Pending community designation under the Rural Renewal Stream program, the City of Cold Lake will have information available on business eligibility, the application process for local businesses to join the program, the obligations local businesses will undertake as part of the program, and the process that potential newcomers applying for the eligible jobs can expect on its website at

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