Community Futures Central Kootenay is excited be among 11 applicants from across Canada chosen for a new immigration pilot project. Trail, Castlegar, Nelson and Rossland will benefit from the project which aims to address worker shortages by attracting and retaining skilled labourers to the area.

Executive Director Andrea Wilkey takes a look at the region’s unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent to shed some perspective.

“If you look at current stats, we’re slightly above the provincial average, but even with that being said we have jobs that remain unfilled. If you look at the Kootenay Career Development Society’s job board there’s been more than 1000 jobs posted since January,” said Wilkey.

Some positions that the program is looking to fill are software developers, truck drivers and entry levels job at White Water Ski Resort. Wilkey encourages other employers to get in touch with her if interested in the program.

A steering committee will be put together this fall to develop criteria for immigrants wanting to come to the region with applications set to open next year. It’s not known yet how many workers the program will bring to the area.

Instead of only one municipality applying for the program, the regional approach will help with the fact that there is a housing shortage in some communities.

“We recognize that in the West Kootenays, a lot of people work in one community and live in another and that our economies are very much interconnected. And so that’s why the partners of the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation in greater Trail and area, Castlegar Economic Development, and the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, we all worked together to submit this application.”

Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) will also provide settlement and integration services for newcomers across the Kootenay Boundary region.

Wilkey adds, “We’ll be looking for people with a genuine employment opportunity who intend to stay in the community and help grow our local economy.”

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will allow the community to choose the “best fit” candidates to endorse for permanent residence and allow them to move into their community to fill a job vacancy (Supplied by Community Futures Central Kootenay)