By Korie Marshall
GITC Investments and Trading Company made its first press release to the local area last week, saying it has decided to invest in the future of Valemount, but details on their projects are still scant.
GITC says they offer investment and immigration services, and they plan to bring immigrants to Valemount who will invest in businesses here, which will allow them to apply for Canadian citizenship under BC’s Provincial Nominee Program. GITC says they will help facilitate the investment and immigration process and have chosen Valemount as one area to locate these investments.
The statement says GITC works with the Provincial Nominee Program to “maximize investments and streamline the application for citizenship and permanent residency for foreign investors,” and that GITC is committed to sustainability and medium to long-term investments in the Robson Valley.
GITC has hired two Valemount residents, with the offices in the current Valemount Realty building. Stewart Ives, GITC’s local Projects Construction Manager, confirmed on Friday that both positions are full-time positions. Owen Torgerson is the other local employee.
The statement says GITC has plans for housing, business, fresh vegetables and transport, although the office in Valemount is the only project that has gotten past planning right now.
Ives told the Goat on Feb 21st that GITC had put down deposits on eight luxury busses that would tie Valemount to Edmonton, Calgary, Prince George and Vancouver, but CEO Amal Asfour told the Goat on Feb 23rd that she wasn’t able to place that deposit yet. Ives says that as projects proceeded through planning and construction, jobs will be created for both current residents and immigrants. Asfour says she hopes some immigrants will be arriving by the end of 2014.
The federal program had been criticized for allowing wealthy immigrants to essentially “buy” their Canadian citizenship, and has been on hold since 2011. The government announced its cancelation in the recent budget, but BC is among a few provinces that have included an investment stream in their Provincial Nominee Programs. GITC says the cancellation of the federal investor program makes BC’s Provincial Nominee Program much more attractive to potential investors. All immigration applications are still ultimately administered federally.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, the ministry responsible for the Provincial Nominee Program, says proposed federal changes to citizenship requirements will not impact the eligibility of applicants to BC’s program, or warrant any changes. She does however think the proposed changes may have a positive impact on the long-term retention of immigrants. The federal changes would require permanent residents to have lived in Canada longer before applying for citizenship.
Village signs exclusivity agreement with GITC
GITC says it is working closely with Valemount officials “to create a sustainable and prosperous future.” Mayor Andru McCracken said on Friday the Village has signed an exclusivity agreement with GITC. He explained that after a rigorous search on the company, he was reassured and felt their approach was reasonable – that if they spent money abroad promoting Valemount, they didn’t want to be undercut by a competitor. So Valemount has entered into an agreement that allows GITC to be the exclusive partner for people wanting to use an agency for the Provincial Nomine Program to come to Valemount from certain countries, including China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and the Middle East. Both McCracken and Asfour pointed out that it does not mean individuals couldn’t work on their own through the Nominee Program to come to Valemount; they just couldn’t use the services of a company similar to GITC.
“Our main concern is to prevent risk to the Village and to our taxpayers, and I think we’ve come up with something that does that,” says McCracken, “but it also respects our deep desire for economic development, and our deep openness to new people.”