Council turns down support letter request

And will develop policy for the future

The District of Houston council has turned down a request from a local businessperson seeking help in obtaining work approval status for a non-citizen.

In a letter to council, Harpal Sahota of the Houston Motor Inn said he can’t find the workers he needs and that the individual he wants to hire is well-suited to the establishment’s functioning.

“We have hired so many people in and out of town but they do not want to work full time. The workers currently with us don’t want to work on weekends,” Sahota wrote.

“I fully support her in regularizing her immigration status and [to] get the work permit,” he added.

“She is a very honest, responsible dedicated worker.”

Council members did consider Sahota’s request at a May 14 special council meeting but in a 4-3 vote, turned it down.

Mayor Shane Brienen and councillors Tom Euverman and Tom Stringfellow were in favour but councillors Lisa Makuk, Tim Anderson, Jonathan Van Barneveld and Troy Reitsma were opposed.

Council did, however, agree to have District staff refine a policy regarding letters of support for applications regarding personal matters.

“Council had indicated that although they could individually support applications such as this, in their capacity as Council members, it was not the place of the District Council to issue such letters of reference, particularly given the varying individual circumstances of choosing to provide or not to provide a letter of reference,” explained District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

“This reflects the practice of senior levels of government, in which individual elected officials provide letters of reference as opposed to groups of elected officials.”

“Going forward, requests for letters of reference will be referred to individual members of Council as opposed to Council as a whole. The revised correspondence policy will say as such,” said Pinchbeck.

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