Canmore housing shortage leaves restaurants short on staff

Some Canmore restaurants are being forced to cut back on services or cut their hours because of a staff shortage.

Low vacancy rate means kitchen staff can't afford to live in Alberta town

Business is booming, but some restaurants in the mountain town are being forced to reduce hours. 2:03

Some Canmore restaurants are being forced to cut back on services or cut their hours because of a staff shortage.

Tavern 1883 recently cancelled plans for a weekend brunch because of a staff shortage. At least two other local restaurants are now closed two days a week.

Chef Tony Woodrow at Tavern 1883 says three of his staff live in a tent. Plenty of people are applying for jobs in his kitchen, but they can’t find a place to live.

Crazyweed restaurant is having so much trouble finding staff that the owner has cut back the opening hours and is washing dishes. (Crazyweed)

“The qualified people come in and say this is where I want to live — can't afford it.”

Tavern 1883 administrator Heather Harrison says they ask customers to be patient.

“Some people will turn and walk away. They don't have the time, but at least we've given them that expectation at the beginning and they can try somewhere else. But I believe that it's pretty much across the board that you're going to find that everyone's got the same issue.”

Owner washing dishes

Crazyweed restaurant owner Jan Hrabec is washing dishes this summer because of the staffing crunch.

The restaurant is now closed on Tuesdays and only open for dinner on Wednesdays. 

"We can't find the workers," she said.

"We've been advertising for a quite while now with very little success. We've had a few people come. They seem to be good at looking for work, but not necessarily showing up for work. We've had a few people leave because they can't find a place to live."

Changes to the foreign worker program have also caused problems, she said.

Low vacancy rate

The vacancy rate in Canmore is around zero and all of the affordable housing units in the town are full. The municipality has plans to create more units, but not immediately. 

Michel Dufresne​, director of the Job Resource Centre in Canmore, said the town should mandate employers to provide staff housing.

"I think they should address it a little bit like Banff did," he said. "I think there are employers in Canmore that provide staff accommodation. I know there are. But eventually you have to have a bit more of a mandate."

Boston Pizza worker Drew Winslow said he wouldn't be able to work in Canmore if his boss didn't own accommodations that he rents to staff.

“If I wasn't working at Boston Pizza, I wouldn't be in Canmore because there's nowhere to live,” he said.


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