Alberta town of Vegreville searching for answers after news of processing centre closure

Click to play video: 'McCallum comes under fire over Alberta immigration centre relocation' McCallum comes under fire over Alberta immigration centre relocation
WATCH ABOVE: Immigration Minister John McCallum says the plan to relocate an immigration processing centre from Vegreville, Alta., to Edmonton will be more efficient and result in a net increase of jobs in Alberta – Oct 31, 2016

The mayor of Vegreville said a planning meeting will be held this week in the fight against the relocation of the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre (CPC).

Mayor Myron Hayduk said the federal government’s decision is a horrific blow to the town, as he expects the financial hit to be around $10 million a year.

“It’s like Edmonton losing 35,000 jobs. That would be devastating to Edmonton. This is devastating to our community,” Hayduk said.

READ MORE: Vegreville case processing centre relocated, 280 jobs impacted, says town

On Thursday, the federal government announced the Vegreville location will be shut down and moved to Edmonton.

The facility employs 280 people. At least 200 of those employees live in Vegreville, which has around 6,000 residents.

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A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said while negotiating a new lease, the department made the decision to move the CPC to Edmonton, “the closest major city, where the proximity to universities, the availability of public transit and housing options, and career growth opportunities within the federal government will make it easier to recruit and retain both qualified and bilingual employees and to meet our growing needs.”

It’s unclear if anyone from the federal government will be in attendance at this week’s meeting, which will take place either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hayduk said a rally may also be held to show opposition to the move.

“The reasoning they gave me was not justifiable. We’re not going to take this thing just saying, ‘oh jeez, they decided to do this, there’s nothing we can do.’ No, we’re going to do whatever we have to do to keep it here,” Hayduk said.

A government spokesperson said the hope is to retain as much of the current staff as possible when the centre moves to Edmonton in 2018.

Vegreville is approximately 100 kilometres east of Edmonton.

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