By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
The Town of Claresholm has been awarded a grant for almost $300,000 to improve the community’s ability to settle and retain new residents.
Brady Schnell, the town’s economic development officer, was recently informed the town will receive $297,650 from the ministry of labour and immigration through the rural capacity building stream of the Alberta Settlement and Integration Partnership.
The project is called “Community Takes Roots” and has a number of different parts.
The Town of Claresholm will employ for 24 months an engagement coordinator and a diversity coordinator under the supervision of the economic development officer.
They will keep open the downtown office of Willow Creek Immigrant Services.
The role of the engagement coordinator will include being a volunteer coordinator identifying who wants to volunteer, what their interests are, and connecting people with volunteer opportunities.
The engagement coordinator will also work with the economic development assistant on community event planning and supporting all the activities of the “Community Takes Roots” project.
The diversity coordinator will make sure culture is celebrated in a fun and appropriate way, assure activities meet the requirements of the funding, receive training to assist with administration of the Rural Northern Immigration Pilot, and act as secretary of the Welcoming Claresholm Committee.
There is funding for the Claresholm Public Library as well for the purchase of shelving and stocking it with 50 language learning books.
There will also be three portable wifi or wireless Internet hot spots and five Chromebook computers for the community to use managed by the library. This emulates a program already being offered by the Lethbridge Public Library.
There is funding for the Claresholm Aquatic Centre. The facility had plans to put in pictograph signage for safe use of the pool to remove language barriers. That is now part of “Community Takes Roots”.
Another $9,000 has been allocated to hold events managed through the Economic Development Committee.
“Community Takes Roots” will also support organizations such as Claresholm and District Family and Community Support Services, the Welcoming Claresholm Committee and others.
A portion of funding will be used to contract the services of Alec Harrison for 24 months to film, edit, produce and generate music and videos for the Town of Claresholm.
Finally, about $29,000 has been allocated to offset administrative expenses for running the program.
Schnell said 28 applications were received for the program, with four receiving funding.
“It’s to build capacity for existing community services,” he said, and not to create services.
After spending a lot of late nights generating the 30-page application, he was excited to receive the news Claresholm was receiving funding.
“I was yelling with excitement,” he said. “This sort of success wouldn’t have been possible without the Economic Development Committee and Willow Creek Immigrant Services and the Rural Northern Immigration Pilot.”
He also acknowledged several organizations who set letters of support such as the library, Claresholm and District Chamber of Commerce, Claresholm and District Family and Community Support Services, the day care, playschool, and Willow Creek Immigrant Services.
“It begins right away,” Schnell said, with advertising for the two new positions to begin within the next few weeks.
By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer