Altona mayor, Harv Schroeder, says the community was thrilled to host Manitoba's new immigration minister, Malaya Marcelino, last week. Marcelino spent two full days in the Pembina Valley meeting with various groups across the region and learning more about the area. 

The topic of discussion during this particular meeting was the successful federal government's Rural and Northern Immigration Program (RNIP). SEED, Altona and Rhineland's economic development organization, provided 52 Community Recommendations through RNIP in 2023, which increased the local population by approximately 121 people.

"We have great support of business and community, and this program has not gone unnoticed by the Immigration Minister, and she wanted to learn more about it," explained Schroeder. 

The Minister's visit also included tours of two of the programs' biggest users - Elmer's Manufacturing and Friesens Corporation. 

Altona, Rhineland and SEED have been pushing for the federal government to extend RNIP or make it permanent. It is due to expire at the end of the month. Regardless, Economic Development Officer, Stephanie Harris, said in an earlier interview that an immigration program is required to address the labour market shortages in the area. 

On the topic of economic development, Schroeder says services continue to be installed in the town's expanded industrial park. 

"Manitoba Hydro has tuned on the power switch, bringing electricity to those lots. The new wastewater lift station will hopefully be not too far behind so we can turn the water on there as well," he said. 

- With files from Chris Sumner - 

You can listen to the latest episode of In the Mayor's Chair with Altona's Harv Schroeder and CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Host Chris Sumner, below.