Revelstoke, B.C., scrambles to create staff housing amid low-vacancy crunch
'Our frontline workers are stacking up, quite honestly, 17 deep in a three-bedroom house'
The tourism destination of Revelstoke, B.C., is scrambling to build micro-units and dorms for workers amid a housing crunch that's left some people sleeping in their cars.
"Our frontline workers are stacking up, quite honestly, 17 deep in a three-bedroom house just out of necessity, are couch surfing or, in some cases, living out of the back of their hatchback for weeks at a time," said Kevin Dorrius, general manager of Community Futures Revelstoke.
"At this point, our housing issues are so severe that we may as well not even be doing any economic development … because we really have no place to put people."
Dorrius said local businesses are reporting job vacancies and having difficulty retaining staff because many workers can't find a place to live.
"We're being told by the accommodation sector alone that they're short more than 100 staff in the winter basically just because of the housing shortage," he said.
"What we have going on currently … is we have local hotels and local restaurants and local independent retail shops that are buying houses specifically to put their employees in."
Hotel to build micro-units
Dorrius is hoping to get a 100-unit dorm-style development built specifically for employers to rent out to employees — a project he estimates will cost roughly $18 million.
He said a local landowner has piece of property that could be used as a site, and has expressed interest in the project.
While Dorrius admits it is "still quite a ways away from being a reality," he's hopeful the development will begin to take shape within the next year.
Meanwhile, The Cube Hotel in Revelstoke received council approval this week to build two micro-units for staff on its property.
"Even though we pay competitive wages … it's still really hard to retain people. So we came up with this idea," said owner Louis-Marc Simard.
The two bachelor suites would be used primarily as long-term accommodation for hotel staff.