Councillor pushes for another immigrant 'welcome' event
A city-organized gathering last year for new and recent immigrants to Coquitlam could become an annual showcase.
On Monday, the chairperson of the city's multiculturalism advisory committee, pressed staff to repeat the Welcome Event every year as last September's session drew around 300 newcomers, many of them looking for information about how city government works as well as job opportunities.
Coun. Linda Reimer made her comment as council-in-committee reviewed a report on the progress of the city's multiculturalism strategy, a two-year program that's designed to get city employees more in tune with the local immigrant population needs.
The strategy, which was adopted by council last July and funded in part by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, shows 39% of Coquitlam residents were born outside of Canada and 40% of them settled in the city between 2001 and 2005. Most don't speak English at home.
Much of the immigration is a result of School District 43's international education program, the largest of its kind in the country.
This year, said director Patricia Gartland, 990 foreign-born teens are studying in Coquitlam and many have brought their families with them — most of them hailing from China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Each student pays $12,800 in tuition fees for the academic year.
Dan MacDonald, Coquitlam's communications manager, said the city is trying to keep up with demand — at least online — with staff soon posting key information about city services and programs on www.coquitlam.ca in languages other than English.