British Columbia

Sun Peaks builds $450/month dorm rooms for ski resort staff to ease housing crunch

Sun Peaks is joining the ranks of B.C. ski resorts building more staff-only housing in an effort to combat the challenges of finding affordable accommodation for employees in popular tourist destinations.

Housing shortage is not unique to Sun Peaks — places like Whistler are also building staff-only housing

Sun Peaks Resort employs about 600 staff during peak season. (Janet Hopkins/Wikimedia Commons)

Sun Peaks is joining the ranks of B.C. ski resorts building more staff-only housing in an effort to combat the challenges of finding affordable accommodation for employees in popular tourist destinations.

The resort northeast of Kamloops is nearly finished building the new 82-person housing complex, which is expected to open in January. Monthly rent in the subsidized housing will be about $450 per person. 

"There is massive demand [for staff housing]," said Aidan Kelly, the chief marketing officer with Sun Peaks Resort.

"If you just go online on social media, you can see on a daily basis that people are posting and looking for places to live — they are kind of willing to take everything at this point in time. We definitely have a shortage up here."

Some staff are currently being housed in trailer units but that was a temporary solution, he told CBC's Jenifer Norwell.

Aidan Kelly, the chief marketing officer with Sun Peaks Resort, says the new 82 spaces still won't be enough to meet housing demand, and, so, plans are in the works to look at building a second complex next year. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

Hundreds of staff need housing

The new 41 dorm-style rooms will each have two beds and a kitchenette, as well as a common gathering space and will be rented out for below-market value.

"There is a lot of staff required to make this machine work every year," Kelly said

"With a couple of record-setting seasons, we need to have not only people but good people and that means having good, comfortable accommodation for them."

The ski resorts employs 600 staff at peak times and hundreds more work at private businesses from restaurants to hotels in the area.

The new housing complex is under construction and expected to open in January. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

More plans underway

Kelly acknowledged that the new spaces still won't fully meet demand.

"It's not quite enough to fill the need, so we are hopeful that we are going to build another, maybe starting as early as next summer," he said.

Short-term rentals like Airbnb are one reason the housing crunch is getting worse, he said.

"There are a lot of people up here who used to rent out their units long-term to staff that are now saying, 'why would you rent out a unit for $1,000 a month to a staff member when you can rent it out on Airbnb for $200 plus a night,'" Kelly said.

The housing shortage is not unique to Sun Peaks, and other resorts, like Whistler Blackcomb, have also announced plans to build dorm-style housing complexes for staff this fall.

"It's in all the ski resorts," Kelly said.

Sun Peaks is joining the ranks of B.C. ski resorts building more staff-only housing in an effort to combat the challenges of finding affordable accommodation for employees in popular tourist destinations. 5:07

With files from Jenifer Norwell and Daybreak Kamloops.

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