Mid-January brought warm weather to the Elk Valley. At one point in time the weather was warm enough to walk outside in just a sweatshirt and jeans.
For me, this weather was more than welcoming, but in a ski town like Fernie warm weather in the middle of winter can be problematic to say the least. After chatting with some friends, I realized that the lack of snow and cold weather is in fact starting to cause trouble. Several friends and acquaintances working up on the ski hill have started losing shifts in the last week, working three shifts instead of their typical five day work week. This becomes a challenge when you’re relying on consistent hours to pay bills and remain financially comfortable. It seems that some young adults are now in search of part-time jobs to make up for the difference in hours.
I spoke with an employee at WorkBC Employment Services East Kootenay (EK Employment) who said that in the last week she’s noticed a few people filtering in from the ski hill in search of part-time work. The employee said the individuals coming in are looking to fill the gap in order to pay for their monthly expenses. This employee noted that this is starting to become a concern.
Although part-time work seems like it is readily available in a town like Fernie, balancing two jobs can be a challenge. This is especially true when you take into account that the rest of the ski season is still uncertain. It could start snowing at any point in time, bringing tourists back to the hill. But then what does that mean for employees? Will they go back to working their typical five days a week and be forced to quit their part-time job?
It’s unfortunate that the weather has such a huge influence over our economy and over certain employment positions.
When I was a teen, I faced a similar situation. Working as a lifeguard for an outdoor pool had its difficulties, as it rained constantly leaving me out of work. Fortunately, I was only in high school and didn’t have bills to pay. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone that relies on five shifts a week to cover their expenses, especially for someone that moved to Fernie solely to work and ski this winter.
I have my fingers crossed that the weather will improve and shifts will go back to normal so these young adults don’t have to scramble to make ends meet.