BANFF – It is no secret housing in the Bow Valley is hard to come by.
While jobs are available, housing for staff is in short supply.
To help new arrivals find a place to live while they work, the Job Resource Centre is getting ready to release its latest staff housing guide. The staff housing guide has been released every few years since the 1990s. It was last released in 2019, and in 2016 before that.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in the release of the guide, but it has an expected release of July. The guide is an important tool used by employees in the area to find housing. It also gives the communities of the Bow Valley an idea of the housing availability within their limits.
“It gives us a good picture of the volume of units for our worker clients here,” said Michel Dufresne, director of the Job Resource Centre. “The worker clients, they are looking for housing first and then the job. They go hand-in-hand. A lot of times people will look at the guide first, and then find out what is available and what they like and apply for jobs at those employers.”
The 96-page edition of the 2019 guide gave an outline of tenant rights and responsibilities, participating employers from Banff, Canmore Lake Louise and Kananaskis as well as providing the number of staff in peak and off-peak season for employers.
Participating businesses ranged from having as few as a handful of employees to several hundred or more than 1,000.
In spring 2019, the average rental rate for a one-bedroom unit in Banff was $1,528 and $1,422 in Canmore. For a two-bedroom unit, it was $1,995 in Banff and $1,767 in Canmore, while a studio or bachelor unit was $1,104 in Banff and $946 in Canmore.
The 2023 spring labour market review highlights the growing cost-of-living faced by people in the Bow Valley. Though pay for staff has increased, so too has rental rates.
According to latest rental rates in the labour market review, a one-bedroom unit in Banff is $1,749 and $2,123 in Canmore and a two-bedroom unit is $2,142 in Banff and $2,771 in Canmore. For a studio or bachelor unit, it’s $1,092 in Banff and $1,235 in Canmore.
The creation of the guides involves several moving parts. First, they need to get an employer on board as it is a volunteer basis to be in the guide.
“Employers don’t have to participate,” said Dufresne. “We try to explain to the employers that it is a contribution to the community because staff housing is a large contributor to the labour market and it is important they get themselves in there.”
The Job Resource Centre uses a coordinator and three reviewers who work for several months to update the guide.
“They call on all the employers from the previous guide and ask if they want to participate in the update,” Dufresne said. “They also call new employers and new developments and we go after those also. We arrange a time and we go in.”
The reviewers meet the employers at the housing in person and sometimes meet with the person in human resources. They then look at the units and make some basic notes about the facilities.
“We leave surveys for the employer and the residents to rate the facilities as well,” Dufresne said. “Then we have a spreadsheet of facts and figures and costs. We get that all filled out.”
Once that information is gathered, the guide is updated. Overall, the guide has also been welcomed by both employers and employees.
“People have been receptive about being part of the guide. It puts them on the housing map,” Dufresne said. “People looking for jobs here find it amazing they have this resource.”