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Website helps job seekers cut down commuting time

It struck Strac Ivanov during his daily commute from Newmarket to Toronto that he was in the midst of a major problem that needed fixing: thousands of 905ers were, like him, losing hours travelling to and from work.

“My wife (Ida Zhang) and I were reading the news … about the problems that commuting creates in the GTA: all of the pollution that it creates; all of the expense it creates,” he said in a recent interview. “And we thought, ‘Do all these people need to commute in the first place?’ ”

With the problem identified, Ivanov realized he was in a position to do something about it.

He dusted off a piece of software he had developed years earlier as part of his master’s thesis — an artificial intelligence system designed to classify content into topics and regions.

The result was Vicinity Jobs Network, launched last month.

The site,, is an online job search aimed at helping people in York, Durham, Halton and Peel regions find work close to home.

“I started realizing that (this technology) could actually be very helpful to people looking for work in a large metropolitan area,” he said. “All of the websites that you see out there are structured for when you’re looking for a certain type of job, but if you’re looking for a job close to where you live, you would have a hard time if you live in the suburbs.”

While Vicinity Jobs is a new undertaking, it is an outgrowth of the Fairy Lake Jobs website, which has serviced Vaughan and all of York Region since its launch in October 2006. Fairy Lake is included in the new network.

Run as a break-even, part-time business by Ivanov, his wife and contributors, Vicinity Jobs is made up of four search engines, one for each of the four regions it serves. Use of the site is free to job seekers and employers posting job ads, though they do have the option of paying $29.95 for each premium posting.

The site also features local community news and job-hunting tips, but it’s the strict geographical aspect of Vicinity Jobs that makes it unique among job boards, Ivanov said.

“Our goal is not just to advertise as many jobs as possible,” he said. “We wanted to basically help people find employment close to their homes.”

A Newmarket resident who still commutes, the irony is not lost on Ivanov that he runs a service with the tag line “work close to home; reclaim your personal time; protect the environment”.

“(Vicinity Jobs) would have helped me when I was looking for a job — that’s for sure — because my job is actually in Toronto,” he said with a laugh.

Vaughan Today
Online: November 15, 2007 [link]