City council has agreed to offer its support to keep Shuswap Settlement Service’s doors open in Salmon Arm.
In a recent presentation to council, Bernie Desrosiers, president of the non-profit society, explained that provincial funding for settlement services for immigrants is going to larger, neighbouring urban centres such as Kamloops and Vernon, while the Shuswap is being left out.
He said he would like to see funds come locally so that the society would be able to maintain their own office and provide assistance to immigrants living, or coming to live in Salmon Arm.
“While Salmon Arm isn’t asking for the $600,000 awarded Kamloops, or the $400,00 awarded to Vernon, a lesser amount allowing us to provide the basic level of services of one settlement service worker, working perhaps 25 to 30 hours a week, would be a good place to start,” said Desrosiers, adding the society could use $20,000 to $40,000 to start.
“And I think it’s certainly incumbent on us to try and make sure that some of the government funding that’s out there comes to Salmon Arm.”
Desrosiers asked that the city send a letter to Shuswap MLA George Abbott stating that it values the service Shuswap Settlement Services provides to the community, and would like to see funding directed to the Shuswap instead of requiring Shuswap and area residents to go out of town.
“If we’re to be financially strangled, we prefer a sudden death to protracted suffocation,” said Desrosiers. “I guess what I’m saying is that, we need to know, and we hope that we have your support.”
Coun. Ken Jamieson said he’d attended a couple of Shuswap Settlement Services meetings and was surprised that immigrants account for 12 per cent of Salmon Arm’s population.
“I’m hoping that this council will have the appetite to join in a partnership, and I would certainly support a letter from council, from the City of Salmon Arm, to Mr. Abbott… we believe you’re doing good work and if there’s funding available, it should come to Salmon Arm,” said Jamieson.
While council did not favour any formal partnership, it did agree to write the letter.