File photo

File photo

Survey assesses existing local support for newcomers

Aims to develop plan to address gaps

With Sylvan Lake’s growing nature of being a multicultural community, the town applied for and received a provincial grant in partnership with the Rural Development Network and three other communities to support newcomers in the area.

The town sent out 40 surveys seeking local input on current programs and services catering to newcomers and suggestions for improvement.

“We know that in rural communities like Sylvan Lake we have limited supports to help newcomers successfully settle. Being the diverse community we are it is important to continue to look at areas that need strengthening to reduce barriers for individuals wanting to live here.

“Funded through the Government of Alberta’s Community Capacity for Newcomer Integration grant and led by the Rural Development Network, the Town of Sylvan Lake has been provided a grant to increase our community capacity for newcomers,” said Heather Sweetnam, the Town of Sylvan Lake’s community development coordinator and chair of Sylvan Lake Community Supports Coalition.

The survey was developed through the Rural Development Network and shared with businesses, organizations, and agencies within Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas. It aims to help identify the current gaps and challenges within the town for newcomers.

The Sylvan Lake Community Supports Coalition applied for this grant opportunity. The grant will be in the form of honorariums.

Sweetnam said, “In discussion with coalition members, we have identified that approximately 15 newcomer families have made their home in Sylvan Lake as of 2020.

“We have also identified that frontline service providers do not always have the knowledge or contacts required to support these families. We anticipate that more newcomer families will be moving into our community and thus the need to build capacity for service providers is not only essential but will serve to ensure an easier transition, reduce barriers, and ensure families receive all the supports they require.

“This grant offers the opportunity for Sylvan Lake to be proactive, knowledgeable, and welcoming of newcomer families by ensuring not only coalition agencies take part, but also other support agencies within Sylvan Lake have the tools and training required to build local capacity to support newcomer settlement, integration, and retention.”

Sweetnam said, “The Rural Development Network will compile information from the survey that will serve as the foundation to assess settlement needs and gaps within the community and provide the next steps.

“Once this information is compiled, and service gaps are identified, the Rural Development Network will create a training series that the FCSS Community Social Development Coordinator will roll out.

“In addition, the Rural Development Network will be creating a toolkit for our community, businesses, organizations, and agencies to further support the intent of strengthening Sylvan Lake’s service providers capacity to support newcomers in rural communities.”

sylvanlake