Workers needed in Banff and Canmore as extra busy summer season approaches

With admission free to national parks in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, businesses in Banff and Canmore are expecting to be busier summer season than usual.

First of two hiring fairs held Thursday, second one planned for May 16 in Canmore

Banff-based companies were looking to fill around 300 positions Thursday during a hiring fair. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

With admission free to national parks this year in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary, businesses in Banff and Canmore are expecting to be even busier than usual this summer.

That means hotels, restaurants and retail operations will need more workers, which aren't always easy to find.

To address that, the first of two hiring fairs was held Thursday in Banff, hosted by the Job Resource Centre.

"(It's) mostly hospitality and tourism jobs — your restaurant workers, servers, cooks, room attendants and front desk agents," said Reinira Lankhuijzen, employer services coordinator with the Job Resource Centre.

Lankhuijzen said the local unemployment rate in the Bow Valley is sitting down around three per cent, making the search for workers even more challenging.

"It can be tough for sure but this time of year we see a lot of students coming from all over Canada — Quebec and Ontario as well as international young travellers who come to the Bow Valley," she said.

"Hopefully they'll help us fill those jobs."

Jibraan Rehman was one of hundreds looking for a job at a hiring fair in Banff. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Jibraan Rehman was there to drop off resumes and make new contacts.

"I'm looking for a job here because Calgary's not hiring right now; I've looked everywhere," he said.

A dishwasher, prep cook and server, Rehman said he expected to find something.

"Right now I've just applied at a couple of lodges, ski resorts," he said. "Hopefully they'll consider me."

Angela Summerfeld is a recruiter at the Fairmont Banff Springs and said the hotel is looking to fill around 130 positions for the busy tourist season, including housekeeping and cooking staff.

"Some of our challenges might be that people aren't aware that we do offer some housing," she said.

Potential workers like Rehman say that's a necessity, as the town currently has an effectively zero per cent vacancy rate.

A second hiring fair is planned for Canmore on May 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Elevation Place.

With files from Andrew Brown