The Fernie Alpine Resort says it is taking steps that will provide “some help for the seasonal housing challenge” they face as incoming staff struggle to find places to live for the winter.
“We have not experienced this tight of a housing situation ever and nor have we ever experienced such a shortage of available workforce,” said Matt Mosteller, senior vice president with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR).
Multiple workers who arrived in Fernie for the winter season have had to turn around and head home, after failing to secure winter accommodations.
Mosteller said the RCR is “actively engaged in discussions on this with stakeholders in [the] community and are committed to working together to find solution(s) with community stakeholders, as there will need to be a variety of actions for sure.”
He said they are “undertaking a bit of [a] renovation project to convert part of the Slopeside Hotel into seasonal and or short term staff housing for this winter.”
They are still working out the details for that project, and Mosteller could not say how many beds would be available for resort workers yet.
“More info will come once [the] project [is] finalized, but the good news [is] it is some help for the seasonal housing challenge.”
Mosteller said they are now focused on what they can do given the “unprecedented environment” brought on by COVID-19, “where previously available rentals and housing opportunities have been taken off market for owner use and or have been moved to nightly rental.”
“Given the massive shift/change in [the] landscape it would be fair to say that there is lots to dig into,” he said in response to requests from The Free Press on more detail on what the resort intended to do to ensure it had enough workers housed to be fully staffed over winter.
”So right now [we] don’t have all the answers to your questions as this [is] really going to take a collective and collaborative community approach to develop strategy and strategies as it is going to take many actionable projects and programs to solve and even then we will still have to be adapting and pivoting as a community to go forward [in the] best way possible.”