Vernon sports club offers affordable rental housing as recruitment tool in labour shortage

Housing as recruitment tool

A Vernon watering hole is fighting the labour shortage by offering affordable housing as part of its recruitment strategy.

"The labour shortage that took off during the pandemic is far from over," The Roster Sports Club Bar & Grill says.

It sees housing as part of the solution.?

"We know from past experience one of the biggest hurdles of recruiting and retaining employees is both the availability and the affordability of housing in Vernon," says owner Hussein Hollands.

"When we recruited our squash pro Peter Trafford from Calgary last year, he found it difficult to find affordable accommodations in the city. Fortunately, it worked out in the end, but there is even less availability now than a year ago."

To address the issue, the club has purchased a home in Vernon with two separate, two-bedroom legal suites that can accommodate up to four employees.

Data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation indicates the apartment vacancy rate in Vernon dropped from 1.9 per cent in 2019 to 0.7 per cent last year, which has continued to push up rental prices.

"We are in a better position than many businesses because we have low turnover of staff and many of our staff have been with us for years, some more than 20 years," Hollands says. "But since growing the restaurant and sports club, we've needed to recruit more employees."

It's currently looking for two kitchen staff.

In addition to the sports club and pub, over the last few years The Roster has added a fully licensed lounge as well as new sporting activities including a golf simulator, indoor spikeball, darts, and table tennis.

"Whether it's a local person looking for new employment opportunities or someone wanting to relocate, we think offering the potential for housing security will go a long way in showing our commitment and hopefully help new employees avoid the stress of the rental crisis in Vernon," says Hollands.

Two-bedroom rental units in Vernon are currently going for $2,000 or more a month.

"By no means is the labour shortage unique to Vernon, but since many people want to live in the Okanagan area, finding a place to rent, let alone an affordable place, is a huge obstacle."

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