Banff and Canmore workers finding jobs, lack of housing

Instead of listings listing bedrooms, living spaces, and nearby amenities, the home finder websites for Banff and Canmore are filled with snaps of smiling people applying to be great renters and promising not to party or smoke. Personal profiles from around the world fill the pages, many of whom have already found jobs and now face the more difficult task of finding homes this winter.

Marion Lejuene, a 34-year-old French nurse, has been looking for a place to stay in the Bow Valley for over a month and has finally found a room after posting an ad online. She said there were 30 other applicants, all vying for the same rental spot.

“I’m very happy because the rent is low: $750 for a room is included,” Lejuene said. “Everyone said they liked the fact that I was a bit older and single. I think that helped.”

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Another 27-year-old spoke to Global News, who lives with eight other people and works in early childhood development, is facing a rent increase and is struggling to find housing for less than $1,000 a month.

According to the Banff Job Resource Center, there are currently nearly 1,000 job openings. At this time of year it would be about 300.

The centre’s director, Michel Dufresne, said employers need staff but accommodation is difficult to find and expensive.

“For Banff, it’s $1,850 for a two-bedroom house and for Canmore, it’s $2,300 for a two-bedroom house a month. I expect those numbers to increase by 10 percent this year,” Dufresne said. He attributes the lack of inventory in part to more and more people converting their properties into vacation rentals.

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David Eby presents his “British Columbia Comprehensive Housing Plan”.

David Eby presents his “British Columbia Comprehensive Housing Plan”.
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Banff’s YWCA just opened a 33-unit affordable condominium complex and there were 100 applicants. There is now a waiting list to be included.

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“What we’re seeing is a lack of inventory for all the people who have to live and work here,” said Ebony Rempel, CEO of Banff YWCA. “Before the pandemic, people were willing to work up to 60 hours a week and juggle two jobs. But people don’t want to do that anymore, so we need more people to fill all those roles.”

The Banff Library had vacancies that it was unable to fill due to the housing shortage. She tries to fill in the gaps where she can by providing a pantry, toiletries, and free use of the internet and computers.

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“We’re talking to customers who have jobs who work in the community but don’t have anywhere to live,” said Library Director Sarah McCormack

“I spoke to a gentleman who came here a few days ago and said he had a job and was staying with friends. But that’s coming to an end and he’ll have to start camping soon,” McCormack said. “So we hear a lot about it from people telling their stories and how our social programs are being used.”

With winter on the horizon and limited housing space in Banff and Canmore, community partners are working hard to find solutions to a problem that will not be easy to solve.

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