The Parry Sound community is coming together to ease the transition for families coming over from Ukraine.
Local residents have kicked off a grassroots initiative to make housing options available for any potential arrivals through Canada’s new Ukraine-specific immigration policies.
Under the new policies, Ukrainians will be arriving with work permits and ready to work for any Canadian employer, according to Vladimir Shehovtsov, Parry Sound’s Economic Development Officer.
Shehovtsov, a Ukrainian national with personal contacts in the country, says as soon as the feds launched the program he connected with a number of local business owners notifying them there is a possibility that a number of Ukrainians will be looking for work in the Parry Sound area by May.
“And immediately, practically all of those who I contacted replied that they would be more than willing to hire these Ukrainians,” he says.
Shehovtsov says as a result all sorts of jobs are available now in the region, however, with one downfall.
“At the same time, all 100 percent of the employers stated that housing must be located for these Ukrainians and it is a very major problem, affordable housing that is like rental apartments,” he says.
Rebecca Pollock, Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Biosphere, is one of two local activists leading an initiative to find temporary housing for arrivals from Ukraine.
On March 15 the pair reached out to community members for the availability of temporary or permanent accommodation for a young Ukrainian couple who were arriving on March 18. Two days later, Pollock confirmed the couple, Vlad and Alena, were all set to arrive in town.
Christy Cafovski, Parry Sound and Area Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, says Shehovtsov was instrumental in the whole initiative, connecting all the necessary people to each other.
“It was really just putting the information out there to see who was available, and using our network as much as possible,” she says.
Cafovski says the group managed to find the couple some temporary housing in time, at the home of one of the chamber’s members.
As for who’s ready to hire newcomers, Shehovtsov says up till now, a number of employers are ready to hire including ECO Development Group, Singular Solutions Inc., Stanley Boats, Di Salvo’s Restaurant, Trestle Brewery, Maurizio’s Pizzeria, Four Seasons Log Homes and Lawrence Aero.