Is there really an appetite to tackle the staff-housing shortage? 30 seconds of time can help provide an answer

By David F. Rooney

Community Futures Development Corporation is asking local business owners or their managers to complete a short survey it believes can provide the direction it needs to help resolve the thorny issue of employee housing.

“I’m alarmed at the lack of response,” CFDC Manager Kevin Dorrius said in an interview on Thursday, December 7. “We have only received 23 responses. It’s only seven questions and shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to answer.”

The survey is intended only for business owners and/or managers. Their answers can provide  the agency with crucial guidance on the employee-housing issue.

“We need the data to show potential partners (such as the Columbia Basin Trust and BC Housing) that this is a vital area of need,” he said.

Last month, Dorrius convened a meeting of employers, community housing representatives to discuss the issue. Thirty-three business owners, City Councillors and Community Housing Society members attended. The general consensus was that there is a definite shortage of staff housing. Some businesses, such as the Regent and Hillcrest hotels have purchased houses for staff to live in, but smaller businesses are just scrapping by. And the lack of staff housing is becoming a major issue as their workers find they can’t stay here.

“Sixty to a hundred units could put a dent in the problem,” Dorius said at the November 17 meeting with interested business owners and managers. “Down the road I’m thinking there will be some kind of strata fees involved… and some kind of paid management.”

While it is still a long way off, discussion revolved around ways to structure an employee-housing project. Suggestions ranged from a university-style staff residence to a condo-type project. Whatever form is ultimately selected, this project would only be open to employees of participating businesses. Most of the units would likely be for single men and women, however, there could well be dwellings for small families, too.

“I do believe that this is an issue we need to move on as a community,” Dorrius said.

But that is not going to happen without the kind of basic data that the seven-question survey can provide.

“I totally get that this is a busy time of year,” he said, adding that 30 seconds worth of time can tell CFDC whether this is an issue that the business community is interested in tackling. “If it’s not an issue, well, then we need to hear that too.”

The survey is online until December 31 nd Dorrius hopes business owners and managers will answer it. Click here to answer the survey now.