Monday, July 8, 2013

City looking to attract more immigrants

English: Charlottetown, P.E.I. Queen Street in...
English: Charlottetown, P.E.I. Queen Street in the central business district. Español: Calle Queens en el distrito comercial. Türkçe: Charlottetown kent merkezinden bir görünüm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SUMMERSIDE – The City of Summerside is looking to bring more immigrants into the community to improve its population numbers through a new website portal.
Councillor Ron Dowling, chairman of the city’s economic development committee, said the city needs to make a stronger effort to find newcomers.
“Given Summerside’s lack of attraction in regards to immigration, the city is launching a multi-pronged approach to ensuring our community’s position in supporting immigration attraction to maximize its potential,” Dowling said.
He said the new web-portal will post immigrant opportunities and will provide a one-window source of information for those wising to come to Summerside.
“Currently, the city has developed the framework for a strategy and the real challenge is to effectively articulate the opportunity and support the potential immigrant and their experience in Summerside,” he said. “Immigration has fueled the province’s population growth from just over 138,000 to over 143,000. P.E.I.’s population growth leads the Atlantic region due in large measure to immigration.”
Dowling said while the Island was a leader, Summerside derived very little benefit from the influx of immigrants.
“Since 1996, the total number of immigrants coming to P.E.I. reached 10,000, according to Statistics Canada,” Dowling said. “Of those immigrants, only 565 initially settled in Summerside, or 5.5 per cent of the total. Over 9,206, or 91 per cent, settled initially in Queens County and, more specifically, Charlottetown.”
Dowling said looking strictly at pure population growth since 1901, Prince County has only seen its population grow by 12 per cent versus Queens County, which has increased more than 108 per cent.   
He said population is a natural resource that provides labour skills for the market and Summerside is losing this asset to other parts of Canada.
“Given our seasonal economy, we can see that trend continuing well in to the future if we do not come up with a unique solution to stem the trend,” Dowling said. “Finally, private sector investment in Summerside is minimal at best and is mainly focused on the retail and service sectors. Over the last 11 years P.E.I. has had the lowest per capita private sector investment in all of Canada from a pure dollar perspective, the second highest unemployment rate in Canada, which traditionally hovers around 11 per cent, and the lowest average weekly earnings in all the provinces of Canada.
“We want that to change and we need everyone’s assistance to make that happen,” the councillor said.
The province and the city came up with the immigration portal with select information targeted specifically at this group. The project addresses three fundamental core strategies: infrastructure and economic development, population growth and retention, immigration.
“General information about Summerside will be included on the portal and will highlight our community and provide an overview of the business environment and outline key areas for potential investment,” Dowling said.
mcarson@journalpioneer.com
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