British Columbia

Revelstoke, B.C., scrambles to create staff housing amid low-vacancy crunch

The city of Revelstoke is working to create housing for businesses that can't find workers due to the city's low-vacancy rate.

'Our frontline workers are stacking up, quite honestly, 17 deep in a three-bedroom house'

The Cube Hotel is one of several Revelstoke businesses reporting difficulties retaining staff due to the housing shortage. (The Cube Hotel)

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.

The Cube Hotel plans to build micro-units for staff on its property. (The Cube Hotel)

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.

With files from CBC's Daybreak South and Chris Walker.

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.

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