Smoky River earns special designation

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Smoky River region successfully earned the Rural Renewal Stream (RRS) Community Designation, hoping that it will help the five communities attract newcomers to the region.
“RRS is intended to help address labour needs and skill shortages in communities and to help newcomers settle and make a home in the region,” says Smoky River Regional Economic Development executive director Diane Chiasson.
“The stream is a multi-step process that required us to apply to the Government of Alberta for community designation. We will then work with employers to attract and recruit people to our region,” she adds.
Chiasson explains the program will also help the new arrivals connect with organizations that can provide information on community amenities, such as accommodations, education, health care and other services or assistance they may require.
“We will be ensuring that our new community members have access to anything they may require and will also be ensuring that they can integrate into the community with ease,” says Chiasson.
“Once newcomer candidates are chosen by the community to fill full-time jobs, the candidate will apply for nomination through the RRS program under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.”
Communities in the province had to meet criteria to be considered for the designation. These criterium included having a population less than 100,000, applications had to be signed and submitted by the Economic Development Organization with primary function in economic development in the region and provide an economic development plan, proof that one or more employers are interested in participating in the project and have employment available. They also had to provide an endorsement letter of support from participating municipalities and a letter of support from a settlement providing organization that will be collaborating with the community to identify and plan for settlement needs for successful integration into the community.
“Our main goal with our application was to help local businesses who are having difficulties staffing their establishments,” says Chiasson. “There have been instances where businesses have had to close their doors for extended period of time because they do not have adequate staffing.”
Chiasson says the communities are hopeful that they can attract newcomers to help boost the population to help ensure local services can be retained and businesses can be fully staffed and operational.

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